CLEVELAND - The family of an innocent driver killed during a police pursuit, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers involved. The suit claims the pursuit was reckless and unnecessary.
Just after 3:00 a.m., August 17, 2016, body cameras video shows two Cleveland police officers driving on East 116th Street. According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, they were pursuing a BMW that seemed suspicious.
"They initiated an unjustified and unauthorized pursuit of that vehicle, the pursuit reached very high speeds up to 70 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone," said the plaintiff’s attorney Sarah Gelsomino.
Out of camera range, the BMW slams into a car, driven by 63-year old Romero Brown, pushing his car into an RTA bus shelter.
"Romero Brown, who was just driving lawfully, just an innocent bystander, was struck by the BMW and was killed in his car," said Gelsomino.
"He was coming down Shaker this way and this dude blew the light right here and we were like all the way at Buckeye and he just took off at a high rate of speed," explained one of the officers on the body cam.
According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of the victim's sister, the pursuit was "egregiously reckless and unnecessary."
It also claims the officers "chased that vehicle at high speeds, without lights or sirens and therefore without any warning to the public."
"Had the officers simply taken the simple step of activating their sirens, turning on those lights, Romero Brown could've been on notice that police officers were zooming down the street at 70 miles per hour in a 20 mile per hour zone, he could've moved his car to safety," said Gelsomino.
Romero Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. The lawsuit also names the driver of the car as a defendant. It also accuses the officers of lying about the circumstances surrounding the pursuit.
According to the lawsuit, the officers received letters of re-instruction about vehicle pursuits.
Cleveland police did not comment on the lawsuit.