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Cleveland Fires Six Cops Involved In Fatal 2012 Chase

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Six Cleveland police officers have been fired for their roles in a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed African-Americans in 2012. Those include the officer acquitted of manslaughter charges for his role in the shooting after a chase. Kevin Niedermier of member station WKSU in Kent reports.

This phase of the chase and shooting investigation involved just the officers who
fired into the car of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The investigation of the
pursuit by more than 60 police cruisers before the shooting, resulted in one
supervisor being fired, two demotions and nine others disciplined.   The officers
fired include Michael Brelo who was acquitted last year of voluntary
manslaughter. Police commander James Chura led the internal investigation.  He says
three-year long probe took so long because of the size and complexity of the
case….
 
Chura
“Never in the history of Cleveland, or any other city for that matter, has there
been an incident that’s covered the time, distance and number of individuals
involved as this pursuit and use of deadly force. It took an investigation just as
unprecedented to get to the truth. The list of forensic and investigative
disciplines alone, as well as the number of agencies that that looked at all
available evidence were vast. To reach the most accurate appraisal possible we had
to wait on all those expert findings and put it all together into an understandable
whole.”
 
Before the punishments were announced, Chura led a more than one-hour presentation
that detailed the entire chase and shooting.   The pursuit started in downtown after
an officer believed shots were fired from the suspect’s car, as this radio
transmission shows…..
 
Radio call
“Blue Chevy, that car should be on Prospect eastbound, two black males, shots fired
out of the vehicle.”
 
It turned out that the sounds from the car were actually backfires.  As the chase
intensified, some officers believed the suspects were still firing a gun, but others
realized the sounds were backfires, but they failed to radio that information to
other officers…..                                               Cleveland Police
Patrolman’s Association President Steve Loomis says grievances have been filed and
the union will get the officers’ jobs back. He calls the firings a political move by
city hall following the acquittal of officer Brelo and no grand jury charges against
officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice….
 
Loomis
“Some of the six who were fired have been accommodated, done a great job for three
years. Now all of the sudden we’re firing them for placing themselves in a crossfire
situation? Are you kidding me? Or is it because the politics is there and we got to
do something? The mayor’s getting his butt kicked out in town so we’ve got to throw
a couple cops under the bus. It’s not working anywhere across the country folks.”
 
And as he has in the past, Loomis blames Timothy Russell for his own death and the
death of Malissa Williams….
 
Loomis
“It’s tragic that it went down this way, but at the end of the day tow people high
on crack cocaine, high on marijuana, one them intoxicated, made the decision they
made and we responded to them and we responded within our training.”
 
Mayor Frank Jackson says he expected the appeals.  But he says he can’t speculate on
how the punishments will viewed by the public….
 
Jackson
“Even though we know grievances will be filed and we’ll have to deal with that whole
process of appeal, but again I don’t want to be in the position of telling people
how they should feel about this because there’s going to be different feelings all
over the place whether they’re civilians or police officers, general public, or even
among you I imagine it’s the same thing. So I just won’t get into that.’
 
Jackson expects the appeals process to take as much a two years. Cleveland Police
Chief Calvin Williams says the city has adjusted its pursuit policy since the 20-12
incident, and has improved its officer training. Much of the reform is part of the
city consent decree with the Justice Department that Mayor Jackson initiated after
the chase and shooting.  Despite the changes, Chief Williams says he cannot
guarantee the suspended officers will return to street duty…..
 
Williams
“There’s a lot to be done on our end as a division to get these officers to that
level, and there’s a lot to be done by the officers themselves to ensure they have
the right mentality and mindset to go back out there and do a job for the city. So
it’s too early to say whether all 6 officers will be back out on the streets, I
don’t know that.”
 
Williams says the Cleveland shooting and recent use of deadly force incidents around
the country have lead all police departments to reevaluate how they do their
jobs
 

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