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Courts and Crime

Cleveland settles with families of police shooting victims
The city agrees to pay an undisclosed amount in the federal lawsuit over the massive 2012 chase and fatal shooting

Kevin Niedermier
Last may Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced indictments from the chase and shooting. Today, a federal judge announced that Cleveland has agreed to settle with the victim's families.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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The City of Cleveland has reached a financial settlement with the families of the two people killed by Cleveland police following November 2012’s massive chase and shooting.


Niedermier on settlement

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Last November the federal lawsuit was filed by the families of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams against the city, its top officials and the police. It claimed officers used excessive force, were poorly trained and not properly supervised. The 60 vehicle pursuit ended with officers firing 137 shots into the unarmed suspects’ car. The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed, and it must still be approved by the Cuyahoga County Probate Court.

University of Akron emeritus law professor J. Dean Carro says the settlement is unusual because no depositions were taken and no major filings were submitted.

Carro says, “Normally the parties need to engage in discovery. My guess is that in this case it was so prominent in the public view that whatever investigation that was already done was fairly comprehensive, which is why I’m suspecting there was no real dispute in the facts.”

In May, a Cuyahoga County grand jury charged Officer Michael Brelo with voluntary manslaughter for his role in the shooting. Five police supervisors were also charged with dereliction of duty. The indictments followed an Ohio Attorney General’s investigation that called the incident a systemic failure within the police department. The police union says officers thought they heard a gunshot come from Russell’s car, but the investigation shows it was probably a backfire. 

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