CLEVELAND -- Will the Supreme Court's Tuesday ruling on an Arkansas high speed police chase that ended with two unarmed suspects shot and killed come into play in Cleveland's infamous case about a chase and double deadly shooting?
A grand jury here is close to deciding whether or not any Cleveland police officers will face criminal charges for the chase and shooting that left unarmed suspects Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams dead after a crosstown chase.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association lawyer Pat D'Angelo thinks the grand jury should hear about this case before it completes its deliberations.
So does CPPA President Jeff Follmer, " Absolutely . I think there are a lot of similarities and ours even was worse based on what the officers' perceptions were....The Grand Jury should here it. They (the Supreme Court) let the police officers do what they had to do to stop the suspects.
In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court justices tossed out an "excessive force claim" brought against Arkansas police who chased a speeding car and fatally shot the driver and a passenger after the driver, Donald Rickard and his passenger, Kelly Chapman, ,collided with on police car and sideswiped another.
Rickard's car was cornered and he put it in reverse and spun the wheels. When he refused to surrender, officers fired into the vehicle.
Rickard's daughter sued, claiming officers used excessive force, violating the 4th amendment. Police fired 15 shots. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati let the suit proceed on the theory that a jury should decide if the shooting went too far.
But the Supreme Court overturned that finding, deciding there is no constitutional violation. The threw out the lawsuit and granted the officers immunity.
Justice Samuel Alioto Jr. wrote, "We analyze this question from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. ... It is beyond serious dispute that Rickard's flight posed a grave public safety risk, and the police acted reasonable in using deadly force to end that risk."
Lawyer Terry Gilbert, who is representing the Russell family in a civil lawsuit said the facts of the two cases are different in many ways and he did not think the ruling automatically ends chances of a suit proceeding and succeeding.
"I just don't think it's going to have a major effect on what we do in this case. I think we'll be able to show there were violations of the constitution here, " he said.
One Cleveland policeman, Michael Brelo, wound up on the hood of the victims' car, emptying and reloading his gun firing almost 50 shots.
In all 13 officers fired 137 shots at the suspects after a cross-town chase involving more than 60 cars and 100 officers.
Lawyer Mike Nelson, Co-Chair of the NAACP's Criminal Justice Committee agreed with Gilbert.
Speaking of Russell and WIlliams he said, " They were not shot fleeing. They were shot sitting still with the chase having ended . They were not a threat to anybody."
Prosecutor Tim McGinty said the basic ruling of the case is not new, but did not say if it would be mentioned at all to the Grand Jury.
"Tuesday's Supreme Court decision simply upheld current law, with which we fully agree. The Supreme Court ruled that the Memphis police were still chasing and the public was still in danger when the police fired," he said.