Two Parma police officers in the same cruiser spotted a black Ford Fusion speeding at nearly 100 mph along Brookpark Road just after 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24, according to a Monday news release.
By the time officers had turned around and activated sirens, the car was past State Road, continuing west on Brookpark Road.
“Officers were unsure as to whether or not the driver knew officers were behind him as the Ford had gained such a large distance between the two vehicles,” the release reads.
The suspect then went north on Pearl Road, officers lagging far behind. They lost sight of the car, but eventually came upon it after it crashed head-on with an SUV near the Woburn Avenue intersection, according to the release.
The suspect’s car caught fire. Officers used their extinguishers and pulled the unconscious driver from the crash. They attempted life-saving measures before Cleveland EMS workers arrived and took him to the hospital.
The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Kenneth James Lemons from Columbus, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The driver of the SUV, a 40-year-old woman, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
While officers were at the scene of the crash, a person who came to the scene said he was a victim of a hit-and-run involving the suspect’s car, along Brookpark Road just west of State Road.
The Thursday fatal crash was the first of two crashes related to a police pursuit reported last week.
A sedan involved in a hit-and-run near the same intersection on Saturday, Aug. 26, fled police into Cleveland, and ended up going the wrong way onto state Route 176 and hitting an SUV head-on. Two men in the sedan were killed.
On Monday, Cleveland City Council members voiced concerns over Parma Police Department’s pursuit policy.
“The Parma chase is not unique. Recently, multiple suburban police department chases have ended in Cleveland crashes,” reads the letter. “The underlying issue is the recent explosion in stolen vehicles across the region and country.
“These incidents have reasonably raised questions among Cleveland residents about the risks they are being put at by the actions of a neighboring police department.”
Their letter urges the city’s safety director to meet with suburban police agencies about their chase policies.
“It’s time for a candid conversation about the impact of these chases on the larger community,” Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer, Ward 12, is quoted in the release. “This is about mutual respect and safety between our cities.”