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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson Says State Investigation into Police Chase Harmed Due Process

Jackson criticized Attorney General Mike DeWine for releasing hours of videotape and hundreds of pages of records several months ago after a lengthy state investigation of last year’s police chase.

The chase turned deadly when 13 officers fired 137 rounds at the car, killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, both of whom appeared to have been unarmed. A grand jury is investigating whether to indict the officers.

In an news conference with several media outlets posted on WKYC's website, Jackson said those officers and the two people killed have been denied due process. And he said Williams and Russell have been treated unfairly and wrongly blamed in the public sphere for their own deaths.

“And I will tell you that if the two people who were killed and shot 22 times were dogs, they would have had better consideration, more attention paid to them, and more attention paid to whether or not it was handled according to the law and due process," Jackson said.

Jackson said DeWine was wrong to conclude that a systemic failure in the police department allowed the chase to spiral out of control. The mayor said that conclusion made it more difficult to hold the officers who fired their guns criminally responsible.

DeWine calls this “absurd,” and says his job was just to uncover the facts of the case.

“We were very careful not to reach a final conclusion about the criminal culpability of anyone involved in this case," DeWine said. "We did not say that someone should be charged or someone should not be charged.”

DeWine said it would have been irresponsible not to release the records. And he stood by his conclusion that there was a systemic failure at the Division of Police.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a written statement that he had no objection to releasing investigative files to the public .

“Our investigation of this case continues, and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation has not impeded it," he said. "The BCI investigation was thorough and professional, and I had no objection to letting the public see the facts. Police officers are public servants, and this is a matter of great public importance.”

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.