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Cleveland: Union, citizens respond to city's police pursuit review

6:31 PM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- It's hard to argue now, like Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association President Jeff Follmer did in the days following the November police pursuit and officer-involved shooting, that "this was a perfect chase."

Channel 3 News asked him after today's administrative review what could be said for the actions of dozens of officers in violation of protocol? 

Follmer says he knew there would be violations and there will be discipline. He wasn't surprised by the findings.

Neither were a dozen or so community members 

"We weren't surprised. We knew that these kind of things happen in the city," said Bishop Eugene Ward, Jr., who came to support the community.

"We know we have good police and we know we have police who are questionable. We weren't surprised at all," said Ward.

Follmer said police were doing their jobs to keep each other safe and the community satisfied.

"Why are we to blame for them not stopping? We're doing our job out there. Just like anyone else that's out there, if they were being shot at or something else, you want us to catch those guys, you want us to put them in jail and make sure the city streets are safe," said Follmer. 

What about the policies -- the ones designed for the safety of police and others?

"Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, adrenaline going, they are thinking more about their fellow officers that just had shots fired and thinking about a gun being pointed at their officers," said Follmer.

Most community members are waiting to hear answers on the investigation into excessive and deadly force used. Officers fired 137 bullets at Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell. The 13 officers involved in the shooting are still on restricted duty status.

Any criminal charges against the officers will come through Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty. McGinty told Channel 3 News Wednesday he'll use this information as his office continues to prepare a case for the grand jury.

"I'm not putting a time limit on it. Until it gets done and done right," said McGinty, of progress. "We want every single thing in there possible and it will be ongoing while its in the grand jury. We're not quitting until we have all the information necessary."

For the families who want justice, it can't come soon enough. But community leaders say hold strong.

"We can wait. We just ask our community to continue to be calm and patient," said Ward. "While this process continues to be unraveling before us."

The Department of Justice is in the middle of its "pattern of practice" investigation of the Cleveland Police Department.

That is a civil investigation into a systemic pattern within CPD related to excessive force.

Those results, typically in the form of suggested changes in policy and training, may not be out for nine months or even a year from now.

WKYC-TV

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