EAST CLEVELAND – East Cleveland police arrested two people following a pursuit and crash that sent several people, including innocent victims, to the hospital Friday night.
Police Chief Scott Gardner said the chase was called off “seconds” before the four-vehicle crash happened at East 79th and Superior in Cleveland.
According to reports and body camera video obtained by the FOX 8 I-Team, the chase reached speeds of 80 miles per hour.
Officers witnessed the suspect vehicle speeding through a stop sign at Eddy Road and Hayden Avenue in East Cleveland. The officers attempted to pull the vehicle over for a traffic violation. The driver refused to stop. Officers pursued the vehicle.
The reports show a gun was found inside the suspect’s vehicle and a passenger in the that car had an outstanding warrant out of Cleveland. The driver was taken to the hospital with a possible concussion.
Four others, who police say were innocent bystanders, were also taken to the hospital. Two of the victims had serious injuries.
Body camera video shows officers rescuing one woman from her car moments before it caught on fire.
The East Cleveland Police have been involved in a growing number of pursuits ending in crashes and people hurt and even killed.
Last week, the Fox 8 I-Team reported on another East Cleveland police chase that also ended with an innocent man being seriously injured.
Eddie Rodriguez, 34, suffered serious injuries after a suspect fleeing officers crashed into his vehicle. That crash happened around 9:30 p.m. Saturday near Broadway and Harvard avenues in Cleveland.
On Jan. 30, a person died after an East Cleveland police pursuit that ended when the suspect crashed into a tree. Police say they pursued the car as a part of a drug investigation.
Police chased the car to E. 110th Street and St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland. A passenger inside the vehicle died as a result of injuries sustained in the fire, according to police.
The chief defends his officers’ actions and said the chases his department conducts are, “consistently monitored and under state law.”
East Cleveland City Councilwoman Juanita Gowdy said council passed the “Tamia Chapman” legislation earlier this month that would prohibit officers from pursuing suspects unless they have a warrant. She said this would also pertain to other police departments pursuing suspects in East Cleveland.
Tamia Chapman, 13, was killed after suspects fleeing from Cleveland police struck her in December 2019
“This takes effect next month,” Gowdy said. “We don’t want any other innocent person hurt or killed. These chases are out of control and we must do something right now.”
However, the police chief disagrees.
“I believe that it is the disinformation, such as the council women’s belief that she can pass local legislation to stop pursuits, causing people to run,” Gardner said. “They are under a false perception that police cannot stop them. A couple of points I would like to make. Generally, when local ordinance conflicts with ORC. (The Ohio Revised Cod.) ORC prevails. There is already a pursuit law written by state legislators that would trump this local ordinance.”
He explained the ORC states the officers can pursue a suspect for a wide range of offenses, including felonies and traffic violations “that would generate points on your driver’s license.”