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3News Investigates: Cleveland cop felt 'so guilty' after high-speed pursuit killed Tamia Chappman

Exclusive police body cam videos give new insights into the police chase that killed the 13-year-old girl in 2019.

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s a moment Sherrie Chappman can’t wish away.

 A day she remembers…

“Like it was yesterday,” she said. “December 20, 2019.”

In seconds, her mind is pulled back to that fateful day. She remembers sending her 13-year-old daughter, Tamia, off to school, granting her wish to walk home with friends for the first time.

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It was the last day of classes before Christmas break, and Tamia was excited to attend a holiday party at the East Cleveland library as she and her best friend walked down Euclid Avenue around 3:30 p.m.

No one could have expected that a high-speed police chase was racing toward the teen.

Tamia Chappman did not stand a chance.

A stolen car struck Tamia, killing her, and leaving her schoolmate and stunned witnesses traumatized.

“Find another way. You know it’s a vehicle. It’s a piece of property. No one’s life, yours, mine, is worth a piece property,” Sherrie Chappman told 3News Investigates. “They have to do better. This is ridiculous. I don’t like it. We need a change.”

As the third anniversary of Tamia’s death approaches, change has been slow in coming.

Critics contend the officers chasing the stolen car ignored department policy by continuing their pursuit in mid-afternoon, passing by three schools and a library, all while ignoring stop lights and signs at speeds as high as 90 miles per hour.

An internal investigation lasted two years, led not by an outside agency, but largely by a Cleveland Division of Police supervisor who oversaw and approved the pursuit.

It ended with little punishment and a policy unchanged.

“No, nothing has changed,” Chappman’s attorney Stanley Jackson said.

The family has filed a lawsuit against the city in U.S. District Court. City officials declined comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

Jackson said officers deviated from policy, engaging in a pursuit in mid-afternoon just as children were leaving school for Christmas break.

He pointed to body camera footage from officers involved in the chase as proof that officers knew the risks.

“Be careful, be careful,” an officer cautions a fellow officer who was in pursuit. “Damn, he’s going fast…he’s going to hit something.”

The chase took root on the city’s west side when an off-duty officer witnessed an armed carjacking. The off-duty officer used his personal car and followed the suspects. Cleveland police officers in a marked cruiser picked up the pursuit near Eddy Road off Interstate 90.

“Where’s he going…where’s he going. Where’s he going,” a female officer is heard on body cam.

Winding through city neighborhoods, the suspects refused to stop and Cleveland police did not back off.

“Going 75 miles per hour on Woodworth Road passing East 146th,” one officer radioed.

Speeds went higher, up to 90 mph at one point.

“Go, go, go, get him. Cut him off. Yeah, cut him off, cut him off, cut him off,” an officer says.

The chase continued onto Euclid Avenue where Tamia and her friend were walking to the library, anxious for an early Christmas gift promised at the party.

“Slow down, oh. He just wrecked. That vehicle just wrecked with a pedestrian,” an officer said over the radio.

As the wreckage was cleared, and Tamia’s body was taken, an officer can be heard muttering: “I just feel guilty.”

“So do I,” another officer says.

The city’s recent history - from the Tamir Rice shooting to the “137 shots” that fell Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell and now Tamia Chappman - fueled demand for change, for greater oversight. Issue 24 was born from those and other events.

“Because enough was enough,” Jackson said of the efforts to bring Issue 24 to the ballot last year. “Because they saw Tamia die in a way she shouldn’t have.”

“Because of Tamir we shouldn’t have Tamia. Because of the 137 shots…we shouldn’t have Tamia Chappman.”

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