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."

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