CLEVELAND – In the wake of a deadly chase sixteen months ago that left two people dead, Cleveland police announced on Thursday changes in its pursuit policy that put emphasis on safety first.
In bold print, on the first page of the new directive, officers are instructed to “err on the side of caution” in any pursuit.
Caution was hard to find on November 29, 2012 when over 60 Cleveland police cars chased two people for nearly half-an-hour before killing them in a hail of 137 bullets in East Cleveland.
Authorities did not find a weapon on either victim, 43-year-old Timothy Russell or his passenger, 30-year-old Malissa Williams.
Because he died, no one knows for sure why Russell fled.
But David Malik, the attorney for Williams’ family, said, “There’s a penalty for running from the police; it’s not death.”
New Police Chief Calvin Williams said the “chase definitely has a place in this (new) order.”
But he said the idea for reforming the policy started before the chase.
Still, regarding training, Chief Williams said, “We’ve probably taken it up ten levels (since the chase).”
The new policy said police can only chase if they know or believe the suspect is a violent felon or a drunk driver.
The old policy said that only two cars could chase without a supervisor’s approval.
Chief Williams said the new policy clarifies that prohibition and is designed “to make sure events like (the chase) don’t happen again in the city.”
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton told Fox 8 News sheriff’s deputies and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation will re-enact the shooting on Saturday around 9 a.m. The East Cleveland Police Department will not be involved.
Norton said he was told the area around Heritage Middle School where the chase ended and the shooting happened will be roped off and no shots will be fired.
The car is also supposed to be brought back to the scene.