SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW)– Newly-released police dash camera video is shedding light on a Shaker Heights police pursuit of a stolen car on Wednesday morning. It ended when the fleeing suspects crashed into a building on Cleveland’s east side.
Shaker Heights police said the incident began to unfold at 6:45 a.m. when a resident caught a group of young men trying to get into his car. Investigators said the suspects then threatened the 69-year-old man at gunpoint, forcibly entered his home and stole some of his personal property.
Then, they took his keys and fled in his car. Shaker Heights police were then able to track down the stolen car at 7:39 a.m., but the driver refused to pull over and sped away.
On the dash cam video, officers initially reported the speed of the pursuit was about 65 mph and the traffic was light to medium. A copy of the Shaker Heights police pursuit policy obtained by FOX 8 News indicated the factors that officers must consider are traffic conditions, speed, pedestrian traffic, time of day and day of week.
The fleeing suspects eventually led the officers onto the streets of the city of Cleveland. The Shaker Heights pursuit policy indicated that officers are permitted to continue pursuits into other cities, if the underlying crime is a felony or first or second-degree misdemeanor. Armed robbery and carjacking meet that criteria.
The pursuit came to an end when the suspect driving the stolen car crashed into a building at Woodland Avenue and East 83rd Street. One of the suspects remained in the car and was immediately arrested. Another fled and was later captured.
Cleveland City Councilman Blaine Griffin is among those who are critical of the pursuit, calling it “sheer luck” that no one was hurt or killed during the chase.
“There were children getting on buses, there were people going to work. It’s one of the busiest intersections at Buckeye and Woodland and it’s just unacceptable,” Griffin said.
He pointed to fatal police chases, including the death of 13-year-old to Tamia Chappman, as the motivation for his call for new statewide guidelines on pursuits. The teen was killed in East Cleveland during a Cleveland police officer’s pursuit of a stolen car in December.
“We’ve got to start thinking on behalf of the safety of the citizens, so I’m concerned about this. I think this is something we need to pursue at the state level. And I really want something to happen about this, because we can’t lose another child like Tamia Chappman and we can’t continue to have these kind of chases,” Griffin said.
In a statement released after the Shaker Heights police pursuit, Councilman Griffin wrote, “Under Cleveland’s pursuit policy, persons accused of minor, misdemeanor crimes are not to be chased. Chases are allowed only when police are pursuing suspects involved in violent crimes or drunk driving and no more than two police vehicles can be engaged.”
While not addressing Griffin’s criticism, Shaker Heights police pointed out that the 69-year-old victim of the armed robbery on Wednesday morning was threatened with a gun, suffered shortness of breath and had to be treated by paramedics.