Cleveland: Mayor responds to state's findings in deadly chase

11:43 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson held a news conference early Monday afternoon with Police Chief Michael McGrath to address the findings of the state's investigation into the Nov. 29 deadly police chase and shooting.

"The report prepared by the Attorney General and BCI will be just one of the things that we will be considering as we continue our administrative review," Jackson said.

The report blames a failure of police command and communications.

But Jackson said he stands behind his leadership team of Safety Director Mary Flask and Chief Michael McGrath.

"Yes I have complete confidence. The chief will continue to be the chief and the Director will continue to be the Director," he said.

Reiterating many points they have held in previous press conferences connected to the incident, both said the city's own internal review of the situation is ongoing due to the number of personnel involved.

"We are not at a point where we will predict the outcome of our review, or offer opinions on the actions of any of the officers," McGrath said. "As the Mayor stated, we will determine whether or not any officers or supervisors violated any policy, rule or regulation. And if they did, they will be held accountable."

McGrath added that the city does "not have jurisdiction to determine whether or not the officers involved in the shooting were justified or not justified. That decision rests with the county prosecutor and a grand jury."

Earlier Tuesday, Attorney General Mike DeWine said the chase and shooting were the result of a systemic failure within the Cleveland Police Department in terms of command and communication.

McGrath reacted by saying, "In the Cleveland Division of Police, we have our policies and procedures and general police orders to address pursuits and to address non-deadly and deadly force incidents. Our policies are better than the national standards. We also conduct our training relative to our policies and procedures. So I know that the officers are trained and the supervisors are trained, and the guidelines are out there in writing, as to what they're supposed to do. Now as we go through our review process, if we discover officers or supervisors that did not comply with our general police orders, rules and regulations, someone will be held accountable."

Councilman Zachary Reed says he does not accept the report's conclusion. He says he is getting calls, texts and tweets from residents. Reed says those contacting him are worried that the AG's report sets up an opportunity to blame a system without any individuals being punished.

"Individuals violated policies and people believe there should be consequences," Reed states.

Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams died after a police chase ended with 137 bullets fired at their car.  Both were hit by more than 20 bullets each.

His results were turned over to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor and will be taken to a grand jury.

McGrath says there is no projected date for completion of his investigation.


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