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Lawyers critical of chief, mayor on pursuit discipline

6:22 PM, Oct 15, 2013   |    comments
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Cleveland Police Chase Shootout Investigation

WKYC: Extended coverage


Photos: AG releases images from police chase/shooting


Animation: AG reconstructs shooting


State’s findings at a glance


Video: AG DeWine details his findings


Video: Surveillance shows start of deadly chase


Video: New video released in police chase


PDF: State’s summary of findings for prosecutor


PDF: Chase/shooting timeline of events


PDF: City outlines supervisors’ punishments


PDF: ME report on Timothy Russell


PDF: ME report on Malissa Williams

CLEVELAND -- Some criminal defense lawyers are harshly critical of Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath's disciplinary actions of officers today, calling it minimal.

These lawyers also told The Investigator Tom Meyer that they think the discipline has more to do with publicity than it does with punishment -- and that it amounts to a slap on the wrist, considering that about a third of the police force working that night went rogue and ignored departmental procedures.

Criminal lawyer Dan Chaplin, who sued Cleveland police in another wild chase that involved his client Edward Henderson, said he thinks that police officers want to do a better job, but he also notes that they get into more trouble for crashing a car than they do for killing someone.

Chaplin suspects that the level of discipline meted out depends on whether embarrassing misconduct was caught on camera -- as this chase from last November was.

Defense attorney Terry Gilbert was also underwhelmed by the actions McGrath announced today.

"I don't think the chief had any choice but to do something, and, rather than antagonize the union any further, he probably went light on these guys," said Gilbert, who is representing the family of Timothy Russell, one of the two slain victims.

That is compounded by the fact that there's been no word on the status of the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's investigation of the deadly chase.

"People have a right to question, "What is going on with the county prosecutor's office?" Gilbert said. "I don't know the reason, but I think now, after a year, we should've seen some movement on that."

McGrath dodged that topic in his new conference.

"We are talking about the pursuit this morning, not the deadly force incident," he said. "That would be a question you'd have to present to the county prosecutor."

Joe Frolik, spokesman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, said the investigation was "a complicated issue" and decline further comment.

He did say, however, that it is nearing an end.

The U.S. Department of Justice is doing its own investigation on the Police Department's use of excessive force, but, because of the government shutdown, that investigation is on hold.

It is expected to be completed this spring.    


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