Settlement reached in federal lawsuit in Cleveland police chase

CLEVELAND -- Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland show that U.S. District Judge Dan Polster has approved a settlement in the civil lawsuit filed against the City of Cleveland and Cleveland Police in connection with the fatal shooting of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell Nov. 29, 2012.

The settlement was reached Monday during a nine and a half hour hearing and filed Wednesday.

The families requested a jury trial when they filed the federal lawsuit almost exactly a year after the shooting.

Attorneys for the families say they won't release the terms of the settlement until it's approved in Cuyahoga County Probate Court. A spokesperson said the City of Cleveland had no comment on the case or its resolution.

The plaintiffs were Elizabeth Goodwin, administrator for Williams' estate, represented by attorney David Malik and Debora Bodnar, administrator for Russell's estate, represented by attorney Terry Gilbert.

Gilbert told Channel 3's Sara Shookman it would likely take weeks for a probate judge to approve the settlement. Applications must be filed for approval, then a hearing will be held for all parties to be heard before a judge signs off.

Wednesday afternoon, attorneys for the estates of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams released a statement:

As has been reported, there was a settlement reached in this case. The lawyers for both estates, as well lawyers for the City and officers, are unable to disclose the terms at this point because any settlement must be approved by the probate court. That process will take some time.

Nothing can ever provide a complete sense of justice because what occurred on November 29, 2012 cannot be reversed. The families will have closure and that is very important to them but this is just the beginning of the road to real reform in Cleveland. We look forward to the results of the DOJ investigation and we stand ready to work with the community to make sure that excessive force by Cleveland Police comes to an end.

Related: : Grand jury indicts 6 in deadly police chase

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Related: : Cleveland police chase shootout victims file lawsuit

The Department of Justice announced a pattern of practice investigation into use of force by Cleveland Police in March 2013.

Another piece of justice is the ongoing criminal charges against six officers involved in the chase.

In May, a grand jury indicted Police Officer Michael Brelo on two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Russell and Williams.

According to prosecutors, Officer Brelo fired 49 shots, while standing on the hood of the victims' car. Prosecutor Tim McGinty said Brelo fired at least 15 of those shots after the victims' car was fully stopped and escape not possible.

McGinty said his office did not recommend charges against the other 12 officers who fired shots.

The grand jury also indicted five police supervisors on misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty for allowing the chase to grow out of control.

Brelo entered a not guilty plea in June.


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