CLEVELAND (WJW) -- Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams spoke for the first time publicly about the tragic death of Tamia Chappman, who was killed while walking to a Christmas party on December 20.
The 13-year-old was hit by a car on Euclid Avenue, which was being driven by two teen carjacking suspects. They were trying to escape Cleveland police who were chasing after them.
The chief apologized to Tamia’s family on behalf of the department and the city during a public meeting Thursday night at New Fellowship Baptist Church.
The Cleveland Police Commission, which was formed in 2015 after the Department of Justice Consent Decree hosted the event.
They called it a “listening session” and people were invited to voice their concerns and any recommendations on ways to change the current police pursuit policy.
Tamia’s cousin, Eillen Cunningham was at the meeting.
“I spoke to her mom before I came and I said what do you want to say on your behalf and she stated that she never ever wants another person to experience what her family went through," said Cunningham.
During the two hour event many people expressed concerns over the pursuit policy and some called for all chases to be stopped.
But Chief Williams reminded the crowd of the two armed teens and how they had pointed a gun at a woman’s head just before the chase.
“What does that do for the city for any knuckle head who wants to victimize you or you or you or you what’s that do for this city, it gives them free reign to do anything they want,” said Chief Williams.
For Chief Williams, the death of Tamia is personal because he grew up in Cleveland and still lives on the east side with his family.
“If we did anything wrong in this everybody responsible is gonna pay for it," he said with tears in his eyes.
The commission and the chief both said they would continue to accept, review and take all recommendations seriously.