Families React to Disciplinary Plans for Officers

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CLEVELAND -- The families of the two people killed in a hail of gunfire following a high-speed chase by Cleveland Police say they're encouraged by the city's disciplinary plans for 74 police officers.

Walter Jackson, uncle of Malissa Williams, is happy the City of Cleveland plans to take disciplinary action against the officers for violating city pursuit policies, but is still waiting for the final outcome of the investigation and possible criminal charges.

Jackson says he believes many of the officers who chased the car his niece was riding in with Timothy Russell knew they were violating city policies, but had a pack mentality after officers apparently mistook the backfiring of Russell's car for gunfire outside the Justice Center.

"They lost their lives because, you know, people do what they want to do," Jackson told Fox 8 on Friday. It's like we're going to go ahead. These are the bad guys. They took us on a high-speed chase from the east side to the west side. From the west side back to the east side and out in East Cleveland; now they've got to pay."

Jackson says the city's announcement that 74 of the 104 officers involved in the chase will face some kind of disciplinary action is a welcome step in the families' pursuit of justice.

"I think this is a good sign for the city of Cleveland, as far as these officers getting reprimanded, getting fired, getting laid off, getting disciplined, pay cuts. I mean, it's a good sign; something is being done," said Jackson.

The families are now waiting to hear from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office on whether the officers will face criminal charges, but say they fear memories are starting to fade about what happened on that night in November.

They say community anger about the chase and the hail of police gunfire has diminished over time and the story has been replaced in the headlines by criminals like Ariel Castro.

"I mean, so it's like, we forgot about what happened back here with the police officers shooting 137 times in this car, killing two innocent people, you know, we're going to forget about that," Jackson said.

He added that the families are concerned that the pace of the investigation over the past 8 months is by design.

"They really don't want to prosecute them. They really don't want to bring them up on charges. They just want everything to go away," said Jackson.

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