American citizens expect police departments to maintain law and order in the country. We entrust them with the responsibility to investigate criminal offenses and traffic accidents, bring dangerous offenders into protective custody, and intervene in threats to public safety. The police often fire their weapons at criminals to prevent them from escaping. Unfortunately, however, reports continue to surface of officers maliciously abusing their power.
Recently, The Plain Dealer reported that investigators were to start interviewing 13 Cleveland, Ohio police officers who fired 137 rounds at a car, killing both the man and woman in the vehicle following a high-speed chase. Our police brutality attorneys at Pintas & Mullins are deeply concerned about such callous behavior on behalf of the police force.
Relatives of the female victim are left confused and troubled about the circumstances surrounding their loved one's death, and are expecting an apology from the President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association (CPPA).
At time of publication, the accused officers were unavailable for interview due to the CPPA standard procedure of granting those involved in shootings three days of paid leave. An East Cleveland Sergent claims this period of time is given to enable officers time to think about the events before being interviewed.
The fatal chase began outside a downtown Cleveland Justice Center at about 10:30 P.M. The President of the CPPA said two Cleveland officers heard a gunshot and guessed it came from the car driven by the male victim, Timothy Russel. Russel sped away with the woman inside.
About 26 minutes passed between this initial incident and the final attack on the two victims that ultimately ended their lives. The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) sent two agents to help the East Cleveland Police Department figure out what ensued in these minutes.
Pathologists from a County Medical Examiner's Office removed 36 gun shells from the bodies of both victims. The woman, Malissa Williams, was shot 24 times.
Russel was driving at up to 100 mph and slammed into a police car before he left the freeway and moved into East Cleveland. In the course of the chase on Interstate 90, an officer reported that he saw something in Williams' hands.
When the car ended up on a dead-end access road, more than 20 police, sheriff, and highway patrol cars had the two surrounded. Russell allegedly attempted to escape by using his car to slam into a police vehicle.
Officers are trained to use deadly force when suspects use vehicles as weapons, so they opened fire on the victims inside the car.
At the time of publication, an Ohio medical examiner's office was testing samples from both the victims' hands to determine if either fired a gun, though no weapon was found in the car or along the chase route, nor were there any gun shells outside the Justice Center where officers first claimed to hear a shot.
Williams' relatives are demanding an explanation and an apology for what they determine was her unjust death. She apparently suffered from schizophrenia, and was staying in a group home near downtown. Though Williams did have a criminal record, her mother insists that the 137 shots was unwarranted, and that her daughter did not deserve to die and execution-style death.
Her family approached the Cleveland NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) regarding the tragic event. The President elect of the organization said they were awaiting the outcomes of the police investigation and would observe how the mayor and his administration responded to its findings.
If you or a loved one was the victim of unjustified police force or brutality, you deserve justice. Talk to a professional police brutality lawyer about potential compensation.