Investigator: New details on deadly Cleveland chase

10:50 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- As officers swarmed a car last November and fired 137 shots, killing the occupants, the supervisor in charge was driving around befuddled and lost, according to recordings obtained by Channel 3 News.

"I was lost in East Cleveland," Sgt. Randy Daley told agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. "I had to call radio (dispatch) on my cell phone and I said, 'Where's this at?' because I had no clue."

About the same time, Sgt. Michael Donegan was pulling up to the scene after having taken himself out of the chase minutes earlier because he thought "there was no sense in me trying to catch up" after it passed by him.

Meanwhile, a third supervisor was sitting in his cruiser and reading a book as police started investigating what happened  on the night of Nov. 29, when 13 officers shot to death Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.  

In his defense, Sgt. Richard Martinez didn't just sit there all night.

"I got out twice to use the bathroom because we were there for a few hours," he told the BCI agents.

The release of the videotaped interviews comes as police brass interview a dozen supervisors this week about whether they should be disciplined. 

The city says more than a third of all officers on duty the night of the shooting ignored department policies and joined the chase, which topped out at 125 m.p.h.

After boxing in the car near an East Cleveland school, 13 police officers told investigators they opened fire because they believed their lives were in danger.  

Public Safety Director Marty Flask said he has not seen the interviews, which were obtained by Channel 3 News under the state Open Public Records Act.

Daley, the supervisor in charge of the chase, told investigators that he was at least eight minutes behind the lead car and struggled to find them.

"I never physically saw (the suspects being chased)," Daley said. "I continued to allow the pursuit based on the fact that we thought (police) had been shot at, that they had a weapon in the car."

But Daley told investigators he thought there were maybe two to three cars in the chase -- not the 62 cars that were actually involved in tracking down Russell and Williams after an officer reported that someone in the vehicle shot at him on a downtown street.

"We're dealing with what we thought to be, in my opinion, was a mobile active shooter,' Daley said. "Is 10 (cars) enough? Is 20 enough? I don't know."

"Sixty? That's probably overkill," Daley admitted.

Capt. Ulrich Zouhar, who responded to the chase after hearing radio transmissions, insisted that police did everything by the book.

"I thought the pursuit was proper, especially for the audacity of the suspect," Zouhar said. "He was a danger to society that he had to be stopped." 

Flask, the safety director, has the authority to dish out tougher penalties than the chief, including the firing of an officer. He is hearing the cases of at least three supervisors. 

WKYC-TV

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