Officers Cry During Deadly Chase Findings
RICHFIELD, Ohio — State agents and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Tuesday morning revealed the results of an investigation into the November 29 Cleveland police chase and fatal shooting.
A press conference was held at Richfield BCI at 10 a.m., during which DeWine detailed parts of a 290-page report. *Click here for the full report
Police Union President Jeff Follmer said several of the police officers involved in the incident told him they cried as they listened to DeWine outline his findings.
All officers involved in the investigation were 100 percent cooperative and never invoked their Miranda rights, according to DeWine.
Officials say the chase started at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland after a police officer said he thought someone in the suspect’s vehicle fired at him.
Security video from RTA shows more than 50 cars involved in the chase at certain points. DeWine said Tuesday that there were 62 officers following along the chase route, which at times reached speeds of 100 mph. The pursuit lasted 22 minutes.
Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams died after 13 officers fired 137 shots into their car.
Both suspects had drugs in their system at the time of the incident, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner. It was also revealed Tuesday that Williams was a paranoid schizophrenic.
According to BCI’s investigation, no weapon was found in Russell’s car, along the chase route or in nearby waterways. There was, however, gun residue found on both Russell and Williams, but DeWine said the results didn’t reveal anything.
“Gunshot residue found on Russell and Williams were consistent with firing a gun and not firing a gun. The results tell us nothing on whether or not suspects had a gun, or did not have a gun,” DeWine said, adding that it was possible the residue came from the shots being fired at Russell and Williams.
DeWine said all the officers believed they were being fired at by the suspects and feared for their lives. One officer in particular with military experience said he’d never been so terrified in his life, including during his service.
DeWine called the chase a “systemic failure in the Cleveland Police Department.”
According to Cleveland police policy, officers are not allowed to join a pursuit without permission from a supervisor. DeWine said of the 62 officers involved in the chase, 59 of them never asked permission to join the pursuit.
Additionally, because many officers had switched to the police channel where the chase originated, they did not hear their own supervisors’ commands to stop pursuing.
“Command failed. Communication failed. System failed,” DeWine said. “Officers failed to follow rules, misinterpreted facts. However, by failing to provide necessary support, the system failed officers.”
“On November 29, 2012, the system failed everyone” DeWine said.
The case is in the hands of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. It will then be presented to the Grand Jury.
Tuesday evening, Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath met with members of command staff, which includes deputy chiefs and district commanders. It was not immediately known what they discussed.
*For additional coverage on the deadly Cleveland police chase, click HERE
Follow along for updates from the press conference in our blog, below: