Cleveland Suspends 63 Cops for Fatal Car Chase. For Less Than A Week

“The nighttime chase began last November when an officer thought he heard a gunshot from a car speeding by the police station in downtown Cleveland. A parking lot attendant thought it might have been a car backfire, a theory endorsed by the driver’s family,” foxnews.com reports. “The officer jumped into his patrol car and radioed for help. The chase went through neighborhoods, onto Interstate 90, and eventually ended in East Cleveland. Driver Timothy Russell, 43, was shot 23 times and passenger Malissa Williams, 30, was shot 24 times.” And so to the aftermath of that fateful, firearms-intensive pig pile…can you say slap on the wrist? . . .

Police Chief Michael McGrath said the suspensions were the result of disciplinary hearings, and violations ranged from insubordination to driving too fast during the chase.

The hearings did not involve any of the officers involved in the shooting because a county grand jury is investigating possible criminal wrongdoing among the 13 officers who fired their weapons. No weapon or shell casings were found in the fleeing car.

An initial review of the chase found 75 patrol officers violated orders, but the disciplinary hearings reduced that number to 64 officers. All but one received a suspension, with the longest being 10 days, McGrath said.

None of the violations was so serious it warranted termination. Some of the officers received a written warning.

Police previously announced punishments for 12 supervisors stemming from the chase. One sergeant was fired. A captain and lieutenant were demoted, and nine sergeants were suspended.

McGrath’s career remains intact. No word on what kind of training the officers received or how that training (or police protocols) will be modified to ensure that there won’t be a repeat of the Keystone Cops meets Bonnie and Clyde routine. [h/t BC]

comments

  1. avatar William Burke says:

    Hey, what can I say… crime-fighters!

    1. avatar DDay says:

      Yeah, my thoughts eactly. There were 88 cops (75 listed in the article and 13 being investigated for the shooting) to deal with ONE, that’s ONE car refusing to pull over? Well, it’s not like Cleveland is a dangerous crime ridden city, oh wait, it does have a crime issue. Maybe a few of the 88 cops could have been usefully using their time.

    2. avatar Andrew says:

      The… ARISTOCRATS?

      Ooh! Wait – The.. ARISTO-COPS?!

  2. avatar jwm says:

    Why run? I’m not saying they committed a crime. I’m not saying the cops were right. But when you run, nothing good comes of it. Don’t play sh1ithouse lawyer with the cops on the side of the road. Don’t try to get physical and don’t run.

    You’d think a 43 yo man would have sense enough to pull over. This situation could have been avoided.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      And what about the hail of bullets? What’s the justification for that? I’ll wait for the grand jury report, but unless the driver was aiming his car at people, I call bullshit.

      1. avatar Hal says:

        Under most use of force doctrines, driving wrecklessly through a populated area (umm, like Cleveland) to the point that an officer believes you are endangering the lives of innocent people, you’re going to get shot. As for the volume of fire, I agree that that was excessive. If roughly 25 rounds hit each perp, then you really need to ask yourself how many total rounds were FIRED. Probably 1000 given typical police marksmanship. Way overboard.

        BUT, odds are none of these cops are getting charged. Drive crazy enough through a populated area while fleeing police and you start to put lots of people at risk. Do that and you will be shot. I know everyone here hates cops but let’s just all agree that this chase probably didn’t happen because the driver tried to help a little old lady cross the street. The cops will probably get medals and laugh while drinking beers and throwing filets on the grill.

        Flame me if you want. I am not attempting to evaluate the ethical implications.

        1. avatar rawmade says:

          Wut…
          Evade/elude does not mean you can shoot them, no matter how fast.
          This is why many depts have no chase rules unless they know a serious felony was commited.
          Police cannot shoot someone for going very fast. I do not know where you got that from but I prayyou never become a LEO.
          If they are running people down thats different, but police CANNOT say “hes going 100mph, take him out!” And to think otherwise is absurd

        2. avatar Hal says:

          RAWMADE,
          I am pretty sure I indicated that what matters is the degree of danger the driver poses to the public, not speed. In fact I believe I was quite clear by saying if you drive “recklessly… crazy enough,” I never said ” too fast,” which is what you are trying to imply. In fact , I don’t believe I ever used the words “speed” or “fast,” so the only absurd thing I see here is your logic leap. Your inability to differentiate between your PERCEPTION of what I wrote and the actual words on the page is something you should see to. Some might say that that lack of attention to detail would make you unfit to be a LEO. Perhaps you shouldn’t throw stones, considering you probably are one.

          BTW, I am (also?) a LEO and simply because one department or Agency has adopted a particular pursuit policy doesn’t mean that EVERY dept. has done the same. It’s a great big world outside your department… lots of agencies out there, lots of ways to skin a cat.

      2. avatar jwm says:

        Call bullshit all you want. I did not defend the hail of bullets. I pointed out the drivers lack of smarts. Had he pulled over no doubt he and his passenger would have lived to talk to a lawyer.

        I got pulled over last week in a company car. Guess what, I stopped. I was on the side of the road for less than 10 minutes and got a warning instead of a ticket.

        Had the driver pulled over and it was found that indeed it was a backfire and not a gun what would have been the outcome?

        To quote Chris Rock. “If you make a cop chase you, he’s bringing an a@s whipping with him.”

        1. avatar dumbfounded says:

          Exactly.
          Did they deserve to die?
          No.
          Is this a sign the Cleveland PD is completely screwed up?
          Yes.
          Should you run from a cop?
          No.

        2. avatar Anonymous says:

          Sure.

          Regardless, pulling over or not pulling over does not merit instant execution by cop. The matter at hand has nothing to do with pulling your car over or not pulling your car over – it is over the fact that the police became judge, jury, and executioner on unarmed individuals.

      3. avatar Chris says:

        It’s called “Contempt of Cop” and is one of the more serious crimes one can commit.

        “You don’t run from -ME-! I’m the -POLICE-, and you -will- do what I say.”

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          That’s 90% of the problem. Cops should be treated the same way as other citizens in all things. No exceptions.

        2. avatar Jus Bill says:

          I think it’s actually called ‘Roid Rage. And target fixation. And a slow night.

  3. avatar Anmut says:

    Okay, but what about the guys killed and the weapons not found. UM HELLO??

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Yes, if you try to run over a cop with your car he is justified in using deadly force to stop you. But the question is what was the crime? No weapons, no drugs, apparently, no outstanding felony warrants? How many cops does it take to chase one old car and why in the hell did they fire, what, 47 (hits) which means probably 100 plus rounds into the car? Seems like these guys got some serious ‘splainin to do.

      1. avatar Rokurota says:

        That sounds like a joke: Q: How many bullets does a cop need to change a lightbulb? A: How many does he have?

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      Hello. Stand out in the street and wait. Report back to us about how it feels getting hit by a vehicle.

      1. avatar dsreno says:

        That’s part of the problem. Police aren’t using their patrol cars to block vehicles during car chases. When the woman was shot by police in DC, she could have been easily trapped by a couple of squad cars. Instead, cops park ~30 feet away and try to use their bodies to box the car in.

        If they didn’t shoot people, they would have to find another way to earn paid leave…

      2. avatar Jus Bill says:

        You’re getting this mixed up with the hijinks in DC last week. He never was in a position to hit a cop during the high speed chase.

  4. avatar Dave C says:

    Wow… Maybe they tapped a barricade at the Governor’s office somepoint along the way?

  5. avatar Scott Henson says:

    First, a 10 day suspension for speeding during a chase doesn’t seem unreasonable. Second, there is still a grand jury investigating the actions of the cops involved in the shooting. So it isn’t like anyone got off with a slap on the wrist (yet). This article seems a bit alarmist to me.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Bingo.

      One supervisor was already fired… and if there were 63+ officers involved in a chase, it sounds like a clusterf%^k that wasn’t properly supervised. That said, it doesn’t mean all of those 63 officers (not involved in the shooting, apparently) deserved to be fired or demoted.

      I’m so tired of hearing this dense “where was the weapon?!?” bullshit. The weapon was a 1.5 ton vehicle that, at even fifteen miles an hour, can kill a lot more easily than a gun when used to strike someone.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        It’s hard to hit someone if you’re driving away from them at high speed…

      2. avatar Anonymous says:

        I agree with Bill. Your statement about them using their vehicle as a weapon has no merit. They fled from the cops and were executed for it.

  6. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    that poor family is about to win “who wants to be a millionaire” in the eventual civil suit. . .

  7. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    BTW – where are Jackson and Sharpton?

  8. avatar shawn says:

    This is the problem with America…no one can get fired if they work a Government job.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Let’s introduce Shawn. Shawn comments anti-governmental cliche’s without bothering to read the article… or he just doesn’t have the reading comprehension to see that at least one person was already fired.

      1. avatar zora says:

        1 out of 63 means nothing.

      2. avatar jjKayd says:

        Let’s introduce Hannibal. He’s a young man (probably just a few years out of high school) and wannabe cop with very little balance in his life. He’s intelligent enough to think everyone else is dumber than he is, but not intelligent enough to keep from sounding like a total jerk. Apparently he thinks there’s “nothing to see here, move along” and that cops should be able to shoot whoever the heck they want.

        1. avatar Hal says:

          Let’s introduce jjKayd,

          He (perhaps she?) believes he is the “internet whisperer” and therefore qualified to make a TON of assumptions about other posters that probably aren’t accurate. In doing so he ends up being as offensive as the person he is attacking.

          While we’re at it, let’s introduce Hal. Hal is fresh off of dealing with a different person’s BS post and can’t figure out why he’s sacrificing sleep at 1212 AM to write this. Hal needs to get a life outside of work, guns, TTAG and reading science fiction novels.

        2. avatar Andrew says:

          I would like to introduce Andrew –

          I’m 6’2, 170, and I enjoy shooting, swimming… oh.. wait.. damnit.

        3. avatar Jus Bill says:

          Hi. I’m Bill. I’m a recovering gunfighter. Where’s the coffee and donuts? And don’t ever forget that Nyquil is the thirteenth step…

    2. avatar jwm says:

      A red letter day, Shawn. I believe this is the first comment you’ve made that didn’t condem George Bush.

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    In defense of the police brass, they are making the cops replace every one of the 137 rounds that they fired. Adding insult to injury, they have to buy the ammo at Cheaper Than Dirt.

    1. avatar Angry AZ says:

      I was on board with that until you mentioned cheaper than dirt that’s just too much…

  10. avatar MotoJB says:

    Seems a tad excessive to me…shot 24 and 25 times? Come on. Police pack justice.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      That’s less than one hit per unit. Sad…

  11. avatar GS650G says:

    So while every cop was playing GTA and wailing the siren how many other crimes went on?
    And did so many bullets need to be fired? We need to start discussing mag cap limits on the CPD me thinks.

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      im all for a 7 round mag cap for on duty cops, especially in big cites. when they are off duty, they can carry whatever they want.

  12. avatar Mediocrates says:

    If the citizens of Cleveland want the police shooting up their unarmed fellow citizen, I say “good on ya”. It is, no doubt, what they deserve.

  13. avatar zora says:

    Shot 23 and 24 times. When you don’t hit vitals bigger sized holes drain containers faster. GO 45!

    Although maybe they shouldn’t have fired to begin with.

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      correct me if I’m mistaken, but you wish these trigger happy cops used a bigger caliber so they could have killed the unarmed victims quicker?

  14. avatar Pat says:

    Reminds me of a 70’s Clint Easwood movie “The Gauntlet”. What the Hell happened? We may never know. Unless the car was DIRECTLY bearing down on cops or civilians, it was an Oink Oink pig fest.

  15. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

    There are about 15 decision variables in Houston’s 8 page pursuit policy, as a reference point. Police chases have been a big issue in this city in recent years, so the policy is repeatedly revisited and revised following the more spectacular chases.

    Officers must constantly evaluate the risk factors involved when starting or continuing a pursuit; including the seriousness of the original alleged crime. If the officer has enough information to file a warrant (i.e., knows the identity of the individual being pursued), officers are expected to stop the chase. If a chase is justified, then only one supervisor and two additional units should participate in the pursuit, unless the supervisor approves additional units.

    Upon stopping the pursued vehicle, the policy states that officers should attempt to establish verbal communication with the suspect while maintaining a position of advantage. {I take that to mean taking cover and blocking him from further flight.}

    The overall policy seems intended to arrest the development of chases, while minimizing the shoot-out eventuality of those that do occur. In practice, it may be counterproductive, as we have police chases almost daily, occasionally fatal, while criminals still think the cops won’t chase them.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      In PeeGee County (and all surrounding jurisdictions, I believe) there is NO permission for a high-speed pursuit. Ever. Remember the cowboy who ran a few people off the Beltway a few years ago while chasing a mysterious “black motorcycle”, and was fired for it? Lesson/reason: You can’t outrun a radio.

  16. avatar Federale says:

    Two nogoodnicks down. I don’t see a problem especially given the long criminal history and recividism of the offenders. The taxpayer and future victims have been served well.

  17. avatar Wood says:

    More killer cops getting a vacation after killing, but god forbid one of them buys a gun for an uncle or to turn a profit on resale. Geez what a screwy world.

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