EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW)-- The family of 13-year-old Tamia Chappman spoke to the media on Friday as attorneys called for accountability in her death.
The incident started with a carjacking on Cleveland's west side on Dec. 20. Investigators said Cleveland police chased the suspects on Interstate 90 before the stolen car crashed on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland. Chappman was walking on the sidewalk when she was hit. Two 15-year-old suspects were arrested.
Attorney Shaun Williams said the chase violated Cleveland Division of Police policies and state of Ohio law by not considering other people's safety.
"They engaged in a dangerously high-speed chase on the streets of East Cleveland, knowing that the children of East Cleveland were getting out of school around the same time," Williams said. "The city of Cleveland police department put Tamia, her siblings and other children in this community in direct harm's way.
Williams said the chase went on for 15 miles and reached speeds of 75 mph. He said the officers involved in making these decisions should be held accountable and an outside agency should handle the investigation.
"Tamia died because of the city of Cleveland police department put more value in recovering a stolen car than they put in the value of Tamia's life," Williams said. "No property is worth more than the lives of our families and our children."
Chappman, who friends called Mimi, was a sixth grader at Superior Elementary School. Her family said she was walking to the East Cleveland Public Library, where she spent much of her free time, at the time of the crash.
Her family said they are struggling, but relying on the support of family, friends and counselors during this difficult time.
Williams asked anyone who witnessed any aspect of the chase to contact the Cochran Firm at 216-333-3333 as they conduct their own investigation.