Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said today that the city will investigate whether police offers followed proper procedure last week after a high speed chase left two people dead. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports.
The chase began near the Justice Center in Cleveland, when an officer heard what sounded like a gunshot and believed it came from a nearby car, Police Chief Michael McGrath said at the press conference.
The chase ended in East Cleveland, where police officers fired 137 shots at the vehicle, killing the driver, Timothy Russell, and the passenger, Malissa Williams.
McGrath says police had not yet found evidence that shots had been fired from the car, nor had they found a weapon in the vehicle. But, he says, there’s the matter of the suspect’s car, which allegedly rammed a police cruiser, prompting officers to shoot.
MCGRATH: "If the driver of the suspect vehicle used it as a deadly weapon, then we would consider that a deadly weapon and we would respond accordingly."
The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the county and the East Cleveland Police Department will investigate. But Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says Cleveland police will also look into the case, to see if the officers violated policy.
JACKSON: "As I’ve always said. If our police stay within the box and follow our policies and procedures, they will have our full support. If they go outside of the box, there will be consequences."
Russell and Williams were both African-American. Of the 13 officers involved, McGrath said, 12 were white and one was Hispanic.
Jackson says the investigation could take as long as several months to a year. And he said that the city has also reached out to the FBI and Justice Department.
The family of one of the deceased – Timothy Russell – held its own press conference. Their lawyer called for an independent, federal investigation.