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Critics, police supporters respond to police pursuit video

11:41 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Critics, police supporters respond to pursuit video

Photo from the night of the police-involved shooting in which two people were killed.

CLEVELAND -- It's a story we first broke last night on Channel 3 News at 6. The video of the final few minutes of that November police pursuit that ended with the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects.

The chase had over 50 cars from Cleveland police, Highway Patrol, and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's departments, but who was actually in control?

Critics would argue "no one" and that this video illustrates the need for pursuit policy reform.

The police union argues the video does not tell the whole story.

The video of of November's police chase, obtained by Channel 3, is eye-popping, especially to those in the business of putting Cleveland police policy to the test.

Defense attorney Dan Chaplin has represented Cleveland citizens suing police officers for excessive force and overzealous responses.

"No one single officer, not one single supervisor, nor one single anybody has been disciplined for violating the pursuit policy," Chaplin said.

We counted 51 cars in this chase. The last part of the 25-minute pursuit was recorded by five Regional Transit Authority bus stop cameras.

Lt. Brian Betley represents Cleveland Police supervisors. Even Betley admits this chase looks like a scene out of the movie "The Blues Brothers" when the two were chased through downtown Chicago streets.

"There was a great, serious concern for the safety of the public and the safety of those officers," Lt. Betley said.

Betley points out that this chase began with the belief that the suspects -- Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams -- fired a shot at police.

"The first two or three cars are actively involved. A lot of times the cars that are tailing behind are doing so just to back up those officers," Lt. Betley said.

Chaplin sees a bad policy in much need of reform.

"They are out of control. It is a frenzy and they are not a professional nor a disciplined police department. They haven't been for a long long time. That's on the bosses and not on the patrolmen," Chaplin said.

The administrative review is taking place simultaneously with the criminal investigation of this police chase.

Lieutenant Betley says some of his supervisors will likely face departmental discipline but, overall, all his officers were acting in the best interest of the public and the safety of law enforcement officers involved.

WKYC-TV

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