Family Files Lawsuit in Deadly Police Chase

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CLEVELAND - The family of two victims who were shot to death by members of the Cleveland Police Department after a chase, have filed a lawsuit against the city.

The 59-page wrongful death lawsuit seeks damages and police reform to protect the public.

The shooting happened on November 29, 2012. Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, were driving in downtown Cleveland. A police officer thought he heard a gunshot coming from the car, but both Williams and Russell were unarmed.

The sound led to a 22 minute police chase, that involved dozens of police cars.

The chase ended with gunfire. 137 shots were fired by Cleveland police in total. Russell was shot 23 times, and Williams was shot 24 times.

The documents mention an investigation and report filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, in which DeWine said, “The system failed everyone.”

In October, a review of the police chase led to the discipline of 64 officers found guilty of violations. A Cuyahoga County Grand Jury is also still investigating 13 officers who fired the fateful shots.

Jeff Follmer, president of the police union, says he believes the evidence will show that the use of deadly force by law enforcement in this case was justified.

"Our officers were doing their job that night to protect the public and apprehend criminals," Follmer said.  "They responded lawfully, with honorable intentions and risked their lives. "

He added that he believes generally civil lawsuits follow cases involving the use of deadly force by law enforcement officials.

"It's always about money, involving the same players who also seek to influence the outcome of the criminal justice  system," Follmer said.  "We are confident that the truth will prevail and that our officers will be vindicated although they have suffered greatly during the last year."

The lawsuit seeks $10,000 for each victim to cover funeral expenses and an unspecified amount for other damages.

They're also asking for "more accountability from law enforcement."

The lawsuit calls for a model between the police and public similar to what the Cincinnati Police Department adopted in 2002 after tension with the public.

The mayor's office released the following statement Thursday:

"As with any legal matter, we will review it and address the issues raised by the lawsuit through the legal process."

12 comments

    • theresa

      you hit it right on the head steve. one of their relatives said on the news. “what happenned to the old time ways when cops say stick up your hands” (something relevent to that) and im thinking, you pull over when the lights and siren on on —– NOT RUN—their running from the law caused their deaths— a simple pull over –they still would of been alive today!!!!

  • Sharon Ulman

    Good for the family. This “chase” turned into a Wild, Wild West show. The cop that stood on the hood and fired into the car should be charged with murder. This same cop was so zealous he almost shot one of his own co-workers trying to get to the “suspects”. This whole scenario was truly ridiculous!

  • Mike

    Of course they filed a lawsuit! Ever hear of working for money? I guess not. As for the people who created this mess, stop when you are pulled over and you won’t get shot. Of course the black community will whine for ever on this just like Trayvon Martin. Why don’t the whine when black people shoot black people everyday, I mean hour?

  • Jay

    The way I see it, if you run from the law bad things are going to happen. The police are not perfect and they will interpret and misinterpret if you lead them on a chase.

  • Janice

    Funny how family didnt want to be bothered with these two before they were killed.. They DID NOT stop when pollice had their lights flashing. Why not ??? They both had records and they had to been up to something to not stop… Guess sueing for easy money is better then working for it. It makes me laugh that you didnt want them in your lifes when they were alive but the blood money makes you happy correct !!! Typical…..

  • Jay

    I like toward the end of the video, the lady says “whatever happened to ‘put your hands up'” as a first offer before shooting. Like they didn’t have the chance to pull over and put their hands up a long time ago, if that’s what they wanted to do.

  • Darleen

    Are you kidding me they’re just looking for a pay out. Even the dispatchers are in their suit. The 1st officer they blew past its clear they were speeding. Its always someone elses fault but their own just like the black lady with 5 kids in the car who pulled over and took off again. They could have pulled over but decided to run from the police. Yea what ever happened to put your hands up well what ever happened to obeying the law in the first place. Not to mention they were both high and its undetermined for sure if they really did have a gun or not. Sorry but they brought all this on themselves and paid with it with their lives.

  • Linda

    Sorry,there should be no compensation for breaking the law.The couple fled from the police and continued to flee.They caused their own demise. The police should not be punished.They were doing their duty.Was there a breakdown in communication?Definitely! Learn from it.No money to the families .None of the taxpayers money should have been spent after the initial investigation. Perps deserve their final destination.

  • Linda

    As I recall these two people were reported missing for a couple of weeks and then it was discovered they were actully stealing from peoples homes and stores and just stayed on the road before getting caught and going back home. The peices of trash deserved this. They obviously had a reason to run so they had a reason to get shot. The family says they were “good people” yeah right. Selling drugs and stealing makes you a good person? Then all the “good people” in cleveland need this to happen to them.

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