Ohio AG: Command, communications fail in deadly police chase - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Ohio AG: Command, communications fail in deadly police chase

Cleveland deadly police chase, November 2012 Cleveland deadly police chase, November 2012
Ohio Attorney General DeWine Ohio Attorney General DeWine

The Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released results Tuesday of a state criminal investigation into a deadly police chase and shooting in Cleveland.

According to AG DeWine, there was nothing normal about this case. He wanted the results of his two-month investigation to be made available to the public immediately.

Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, died when officers fired 137 bullets into their car after a high-speed chase last November. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner released the autopsy reports, and revealed Williams was shot 24 times and Russell was shot 23 times. Both had cocaine in their systems, and Russell was drunk.

During DeWine's investigation, 120 interviews were conducted. He says every officer was cooperative in the investigation.

A Cleveland officer saw Russell speeding and said he heard what he believed to be a gunshot. That led a 22-minute chase that reached 100mph. At one point, a minimum of 62 police cars, both marked and unmarked, were involved in the chase.

Of those 62 cars involved in the chase, 59 did not receive supervisor permission to join in the chase. In accordance with the Cleveland Police Department policy, officers must seek permission to join a pursuit in progress.

Radio traffic revealed officers thought a gun was brandished by the suspect in the vehicle.

Police searched the suspect's car and along the chase route, but no weapon was found. 

Gun residue tests were conducted on both the hands of Williams and Russell. Particles were found on both, as well as the interior of the vehicle. But according to DeWine, the test reveals nothing because so many gunshots were fired at close range.

According to DeWine, the 13 officers who discharged their weapons felt an imminent threat to their safety and the safety of other officers. All feared for their lives, and were under the impression they were under fire from those inside the suspect vehicle.

The total duration of audible gunfire from first shot to last was 17.8 seconds.

DeWine's investigation reveals a systemic failure within the Cleveland Police Department. Both a command and communications failure.

"On November 29, 2012, the system failed everyone," DeWine said.

"Police officers have a difficult job," DeWine added. "They must make life and death decisions in a matter of seconds based on the information they have."

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty's Office will now take a look at the Attorney General's report and possibly present findings to the Grand Jury.

McGinty said the procedure of findings will take time.

"We all want the truth out there," said McGinty.

The police union responded to the Attorney General's investigation, and predicts the shooting will be legally justified. They say the bigger problem is actions of criminals, not police.

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