CLEVELAND – Cleveland Police Chief Mike McGrath and Mayor Frank Jackson were unable to answer most of the questions reporters asked following the Ohio Attorney General’s Office investigation into the fatal night of Nov. 29.
McGrath was asked why 59 of the 62 officers involved in the incident didn’t get supervisor permission to be part of the pursuit — something that’s police policy.
“Those are questions we will hopefully get answered in our administrative review,” McGrath said.
Jackson and McGrath only said their administrative review will determine if officers acted within proper protocol or not. If they didn’t, they will be held accountable.
“The severity of consequences for officers involved in the incident will be determined by how much they were outside the box.”
McGrath noted Cleveland Police Department policies are better than national standards while saying, “I’m not at a point to offer opinions of officers’ actions or predict the outcome.”
The decision if officers were justified or not lies in the hands of the Cuyahoga County prosecutor and the grand jury.
While Jackson respects the AG’s report, he said it doesn’t lend itself to the criminal side of the incident.
On the night of Nov. 29, authorities said they thought a gunshot was fired toward them at the Justice Center which prompted the police pursuit involving 62 officers. The 22 minute chase ended in East Cleveland with 137 bullets fired and driver Timothy Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams, dead.
Both Russell and Williams had drugs in their system and the AG’s office said Russell was driving drunk. During interviews of each officer involved, the AG’s office said not one of them radioed that the sound they were hearing could’ve been the car backfiring.
But at some point during the pursuit, an officer radioed for stop sticks. A supervisor replied they didn’t have any that worked. McGrath only responded, “supervisors are supposed to check their equipment.”
“We supply police officers with whatever they need to do their job and whatever they need to do their job in a professional way,” Jackson said. He noted that included equipment and overtime.
“I’m under no pressure but to do the right thing,” Jackson continued. “Regardless of whatever is being reported or whatever the side conversations are.”
The 13 officers who fired a weapon that night remain on restricted duty, McGrath said.