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Video: 12 Supervisors Disciplined for Ohio Pursuit

June 11, 2013  | 

VIDEO: Supervisors Disciplined In Cleveland Pursuit

Twelve Cleveland police supervisors were fired, demoted, or suspended for failing to control a pursuit that involved more than a third of the agency's officers and led to the deaths of two unarmed suspects.

One sergeant was fired, two other supervisors were demoted, and nine were disciplined for their roles in the Nov. 29 chase and shooting. Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath, Mayor Frank Jackson and other city leaders announced the disciplinary measures at a Tuesday press conference.

Sgt. Michael Donegan was fired because of "the gravity of your failure to execute your responsibilities as a sergeant of police for the city of Cleveland," said City Safety Director Martin Flask.

Two other supervisors were demoted and nine face suspensions of up to 30 days. The supervisors include Capt. Ulrich Zouhar, Lt. Paul Wilson, Sgt. Mathew Putnam, Sgt. Patricia Coleman, Sgt. Randolph Daley, Sgt. Jason Edens, Sgt. Brian Chetnick, Sgt. Brian Lockwood, Sgt. Mark Bickerstaff, Sgt. Matthew Gallagher and Sgt. Richard Martinez, reports the Plain Dealer.

Chief McGrath will now review the roles of the 104 patrol officers involved in the chase of the 276 patrol officers on duty at the time.

The chase of Timothy Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams, began downtown after officers reported someone had fired a gun from Russell's 1979 Chevrolet Malibu SS. It ended about 30 minutes later in an East Cleveland middle school parking lot, when 13 officers fired 137 rounds at the Malibu, killing both suspects.

Comments (30)

Displaying 1 - 30 of 30

Bill @ 6/11/2013 3:29 PM

I don't know which is worse. The fact there were 104 cops chasing these guys, or the fact it took a dozen more to "supervise" them?

LT @ 6/11/2013 4:08 PM

13 officers and 137 rounds? Listen men, I wear blue too, but we have to reel in this nonsense of everyone wanting to get in on "the action". Maybe we all need more training on "shoot, don't shoot". Maybe we need to use more common sense and realize not all of us need to fire upon a suspect(s) when there are so many other blues on scene. I know about the adrinaline rush and all that, but as professionals we must subdue it and take control of our senses and emotions and do the right thing. Some time the best thing to do is nothing at all. Let's do our job in a more professional manner and as careful out there.

Just a regular guy @ 6/11/2013 4:22 PM

"LT" you're clearly an administrator and wanted everyone to know it by using your title for a name. Since you have formulated all the answers while quarterbacking from the safety of your office, exactly how many officers should have fired their weapon, and exactly how many rounds should each of them fired?

LT @ 6/11/2013 5:14 PM

"guy" Since I wasn't there I cannot answer your questions. However, if you have any experience at all you'll have to agree with me that overkill seems to be the word of the day. I'm not saying don't fire until fired upon, just saying WE need to be more careful and think about our families and the final outcome of the situation before we jump the gun. Even the Chief and Mayor agree that 1/3 of the department did not need to be involved in this incident. I've been involved in this same type of incident and never fired one round. Just because the man power is available doesn't mean it should be used. Just because you carry a certain number of rounds doesn't mean you should fire them all at once. Just becasue you are on the scene, with 12 other blues, doesn't mean you have to fire because they are firing. I promise you that some of the younger officers fired because that was what they saw other blues doing. I commend those officers that were there and did not fire because they understood the situation was well in hand. An by the way, LT is my initials not my rank.

Milton Schick @ 6/11/2013 5:28 PM

The real problem was stated in the first sentence of the article, "two unarmed suspects." What happened and how did this situation get so out-of-control? What happened to the ethics and professionalism which strives to take suspects alive if at all possible? Legally armed civilians don't have that requirement when being attacked and under self-defense law, but all cops do. It's a negative of the job. Cleveland is going to be hit with a massive wrongful death lawsuit from the suspects' families with 137 shots fired at those 2 dead suspects. A police department simply can't operate like this.

Jim A @ 6/11/2013 6:28 PM

Officers DON'T necessarily fire because everyone else does. And thinking about your family and the potential outcome of a police shooting at the time of the incident leads to officers that hesitate and die because of it. If it is justified, it is justified - plain and simple. It does not really matter if it is 137 rounds or just the two needed to take down the suspects. (Of course we know how a liberal jury will see this.)

And I see in the list of those disciplined are Sergeants, LT's, and Captains - but NOT the person that supervises them - The CHIEF! If you are going to throw rocks, then hit everyone involved.

Although this certainly was not a pretty picture for the department, I would think that many of those disciplined will have their discipline overturned - or you have a week and ineffective union. You are big enough that your union (unlike mine) has a lot of pull and quality legal representation.

And once again, nobody has considered that the final outcome of this whole incident was the fault of the suspects. Don't be an idiot and everything will be ok. If you act like an idiot, you add variables into the equation - and you create your own destiny.

But I am sure that NOBODY reading this article thinks that this outcome was ideal. It certainly was not and we do need to work harder at controlling our emotions, our desire to be where the action is, failing to follow procedure, or failure to supervise. Some of these guys had 30 minutes to think about this. It was not like it happened in 30 seconds that required a split-second decision.

Milton Schick @ 6/11/2013 7:09 PM

Because cops are public servants, they must try to capture perps alive, unless the cop's life is threatened. That means a cop must identify himself and order the perp to surrender first, before offensive action is taken. "Stop! Police!", is an excellent example. But if the perp initially attacks the cop or subsequently attacks the cop, then the cop is free to use whatever force level is necessary.

A private citizen operating lawfully has absolutely no duty to say one word. If someone attacks, the private citizen can use whatever force level is necessary to stop the attack without any warning, including lethal force, period. The perps know this. That's why perps are so afraid of armed civilians, but do not fear cops, for they know cops have rules that control them.

In this case, the perps turned out to be unarmed. So who screwed up the entire report branding the perps as armed? Cops can't chase down suspects and kill them without first determining if those suspects show a lethal threat. Yeah, the perps committed felony fleeing, but that in and of itself does not constitute a lethal force response. Yeah, when caught, the cops take the perps down with firearms drawn, ready for anything that might happen. But they don't shoot the perps unless the perps draw down on the cops. Yeah, that makes the job really tough, but that's exactly the nature of the job. If a cop can't agree to that, he can't be a cop.

Deputy King @ 6/11/2013 10:31 PM

This is very troubling indeed, over 104 officers responded to a vehicle pursuit? & a Sgt. Was fired, why was the Sgt. Fired & not the Capt. Or Lt? & there were 12 supervisors in all involved & none of them had control over the officers? That dept. sounds like it's out of control. 137 rounds fired killing 2 unarmed civilians. That city must have deep pockets, because the lawsuit is about to be ugly!! I'm sure. Sounds like half the shift needs to go back to the academy to learn how to follow the chain of command.

JM @ 6/11/2013 11:04 PM

LT, I think it is pretty irresponsible to make the judgements you made without either being there or watching a video. I am guessing you have never been involved in a shooting.

Let me ask you this, if you were in a shootout, do you think you would be counting how many other officers are shooting and how many rounds they had shot? Or would you be watching the threat and making whatever use of force decision is appropriate based of what the SUSPECT is doing?

JM @ 6/11/2013 11:22 PM

Milton, there is no such "requirement" to take suspects alive if possible. The only "requirement" Officers have in regards to use of force on suspects comes from the US Constitution (usually the 4th Amendment), US Supreme Court decisions (Tennessee vs. Garner; Graham vs. Connor, etc.), and whatever your agency policy and procedure says.

I think it's sad that people can sit back and "monday morning quarterback" an incident without knowing ALL the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

Milton Schick @ 6/11/2013 11:59 PM

JM, I think you miss-read what I stated. I said, "they must try to capture perps alive, unless the cop's life is threatened." If a perp is armed and brings that weapon to bear on an officer, that is an entirely different matter. Otherwise, that's why there is a Taser on the belts of many cops. Anything less than that, the public outcry from every concerned citizen's group would crucify the department and any officers involved. But there is also a moral question as to what mind-set officers must maintain. Yes, every single officer must be prepared to use lethal force at a monent's notice to defend themselves and innocent civilians. Sometimes, that preparation litteraly involves precognition. But at the same time, taking a human life is not a trivial matter. At the very least, public opinion will not allow making it a trivial matter, let alone the moral and ethical code of our society. That's what makes a cop's life so incredibly tough, handling those decisions and having the courage to enforce the personal restraint from pounding a perp into a red smear.

Renee @ 6/12/2013 3:19 AM

JM you too are "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" everyone elses comments, yet you were not there either. Just because these were cops does not mean every other cop should stand behind them. Sometimes even cops screw up. We are human too. Let the outcome judge this incident for itself.

Renee @ 6/12/2013 3:28 AM

Even the Chief knew the actions of some where wrong. Here's a direct quote from McGrath himself

"Overall, the majority of officers and supervisors who were on duty during the pursuit on Nov. 29 followed policies and procedures," according to an April 24 statement by Chief McGrath. "However, the evidence presented by the committee indicates that there were infractions."

wvcsorchy @ 6/12/2013 3:43 AM

Listening to the audio from dispatch, the suspects were reported to have had a pop can, black gloves, loading weapons, plus FIRING at officers..depending on the part of the pursuit. If there is a long pursuit, many patrol vehicles may be involved at SOME point, as the chase moves through various parts of the city and into the next. If patrols are "two person" that is 52 vehicles (104 officers). Only 13 officers (maybe 7 patrol units) were involved in firing the 137 rounds, so many officers were not there at the end of the pursuit or making the decision "not to fire" because there was enough response already. Although unarmed at the end of the pursuit, that does not mean that the suspects were unarmed earlier in the pursuit. I do not see anything about the results of the "gunshot residue" tests completed on the suspects. If you are working and hear a call for assistance or "shots fired" you want to respond by "heading that way" ... then stop response, if not needed any longer. I would want to think that "backup" was on the way if I called "shots fired" over the radio. (and I wouldn't mind if it was more, rather than less). That is why Monday quarterbacking is BAD. When you are "in it" you are thinking about YOUR necessary response to your immediate situation (to protect yourself/fellow LEOs, and the innocent public as much as possible) ...not what others may or may not be doing "along the way" of a thirty minute chase. Radio traffic is reduced to allow for emergency transmissions from officers directly involved. You need to have "the whole story" before you make judgements about the actions of officers "on scene". The supects had also rammed a police car during the chase...that is use of "deadly force". The suspects' choices/actions are part of the equation that is rarely mentioned. I pray that LEOs make it home safely, after each shift.

Nichole @ 6/12/2013 4:09 AM

Milton - They didn't know the suspects were unarmed but they had reason to believe that they were because of reports that they were and because the female passenger a week or two prior, threatened to kill police officers while she was in custody. A gun could've been in the car and dumped before the pursuit started, before police arrived. Both of the suspects were combative, they eluded police, were reckless and dangerous from the get go.

I still don't agree with the amount of rounds that were fired, but adrenaline is a hell of a drug.

leebotx @ 6/12/2013 6:27 AM was this incident a "shootout" when the subject was unarmed?????????????????????????????????

Brad @ 6/12/2013 6:46 AM

The large amount of long responses here indicates several things about the issue. Officers know and should expect to be judged by people who were not at the scene (supervisors, a jury, etc); most of the many deadly force incidents I was involved in or "supervised" by action evaluations, were handled by one or a couple of officers where one or a couple of officers fired one or a couple of shots each; I have not seen what actions of the suspects caused the firing to start; after it started where did all the rounds go?; how long did the large number of officers involved actually pursue (did one or two chase for a time and then others pick it up or did all of the total number of officers chase at once?). I don't see enough information in this short article to make any reasonable judgement if the officers acted reasonably or not. I am glad the officers seem to have survived, even though some careers were damaged. My very bottom line, without any better information than this article, is the people who flee the police in motor vehicles have been deemed to be using deadly force by the US Supreme Court and should expect a bad outcome at the end of a pursuit. I also believe the agency administrators have a duty to correct negligent behavior on the part of their employees. The employees have recourse for unfair discipline by the court system.

TERRY ZECH @ 6/12/2013 7:19 AM

Supervisors who were on duty needed to calm the situation and only utilize the units necessary to bring the best end to it. Stay safe out there and remember you have to be sure of the PC. I just retired and I still get upset with the guys that kill and wound our brothers and sisters. Anyone who kills a cop deseerves the death penalty is always the way I have felt. Just use up their appeals and when they are exhausted utilize whatever to see they pay the penalty.

leebotx @ 6/12/2013 8:47 AM

Garland, Tx, unarmed suspect died after being shot at 41 times;
Cleveland Police, 13 officers fired 137 rounds suspects unarmed; LAPD, more than 100 shots at 2 newspaper delivery women, unarmed; I'm sure there are more examples. Is there a training issue or do we just say "s**t happens" and ignore it? I would like to hear what everyone thinks.

LT @ 6/12/2013 11:25 AM

"leebotx" I agree that there is a training problem with most agencies. As police officers, we want to be involved with every crime and do what we can to bring the criminal in. However, I'm telling everyone that will listen with open ears that monkey see, monkey do. If supervisors would supervise and not try to be eveyones friend and buddy, then we would have a lot less of these type of cases. Listen up are mostly to blame for this. I dont't know how many years the officers on the scene had, but I bet there were a lot of younger cops. Just like puppies and kittens, they want to inquire about everything. I have been involved with several shooting incidents and have never fired one round. In fact, I have been prasied by my superiors for leaning against a tree and taking notes at a hot scene. Several other of my patrol buddies have also been prasied for just listening or taking pictures with their cell phones on a hot scene. Did we want to get involved? You are dam right we did, but we knew the situation was under control and the best thing we could do was hold back and take in the evidence with our senses. I know there is a lot that happened on this scene in Ohio that I will never know about so I cannot come to a final conclusion about who did what when. But again, supervisors need to supervise and when they don't they need to be held accountable.

TC @ 6/12/2013 12:20 PM

OMG, Is this what passes for professional conduct out there? I am addressing the flamers out there. Some of you claim to be officers, but you don't act like it. This "thin blue line" crap is out of control, and a badge is not a license to kill. I know it's difficult to control yourselves even now while behind your screens, but get a grip.

This situation was another example of bad policing. Learn from it. Even now, I think we can agree a mob mentality played a part in this. And you don't have to be a cop to see it. When the dust settled, the bad guys were unarmed. How can a professional officer defend that? It's a hard enough job as it is. Encounters like this make it worse.

LT, stay frosty.

JD @ 6/13/2013 10:20 AM

I tell you one problem I have seen more of in the past 14 years. More requirments for college grads and college education. I love education but I have seen more wet behind the ears, scared, never had a job, still living at home with mommy, vergin college grads getting jobs because they had more education.

Come on folks, education is great but we need police that are real men and arn't afraid of confrontation and jump when they see their own shadow. I don't know the scenerio of these previously spoken about issues of the reasoning beind it but I know that you tend to get more pansies doing to the job the more education you require.... I hate saying that but its true.... In fact most of the guys that I prefer to see become police officers continue their education after being hired. Not hating on education, just what it seems to be bringing to the hiring table.

LT @ 6/13/2013 12:09 PM

"TC" and "JD" It appears to me that you both are right on target. Must have a little experience under that belt. Maybe even a lot of experience. Let's learn from this situation and move on. What's done is done. I just hope that more cops will understand that there is always more than one solution to every problem. May not be the best soultion, but still. Let's be careful out there.

JM @ 6/13/2013 1:00 PM

leebotx, you are proving my point... The report says the suspects were unarmed in the end, however there were reports of shots fired from the vehicele and another report said they were shooting at cops and ramming them with their vehicle. They could have been armed initially, and then dumped the guns along the way. We don't know at this point.

I did not say it was a "shootout" I said the cops were in a "shooting"... if a suspect is trying to run over another cop with a vehicle, it is time to start shooting and I would hope if the suspect was trying to run me over, every able cop would begin shooting at him and would not stop shooting until the vehicle stopped.

I am not saying the suspect was trying to run over the Officers, I am just saying there are many possible scenarios and you guys need to get your facts straight before you starting judging the actions of others

JM @ 6/13/2013 1:06 PM

Renee, I am not even sure what "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" everyone's comments means. I was simply responding to their comments. Monday Morning QB is when you judge other's actions in a particular incident days after the incident took place. You make these judgements while you are in the comfort of your own home/office while the responding officers had to make split second decisions while under the stress of the overall incident. It involves using information against Officers which were not known to the Officer's at the time of the incident.

It also involves judging people without knowing ALL THE FACTS surrounding a particular incident. How can anyone here say the Officer's actions were wrong when they do not know all the information?

JM @ 6/13/2013 1:28 PM

Milton, I was referring to your other comment when you said, "What happened to the ethics and professionalism which strives to TAKE SUSPECTS ALIVE IF AT ALL POSSIBLE? Legally armed civilians don't have that REQUIREMENT when being attacked and under self-defense law, but ALL COPS DO.

Again, I am not saying the Officers involved in this incident were right, but I certainly do not have enough information to say they were wrong.

and to those that have a problem with the amount of shots fired need to remember.... It's not excessive unless they reload. Ha Ha, just kidding, I had to inject some humor here.

plato's playdough @ 6/14/2013 2:11 AM - Mallisa Williams was recorded threatening to kill an LEO. Also, - Some LEO reported gunfire from the vehicle. If it was ditched, it would not be found at the final scene. Could this be reverse racism?

plato's playdough @ 6/14/2013 2:13 AM

Woops, forgot this one. - "The pursuit began when Russell fled from a traffic stop."

"The pursuit that took place and the deadly force that followed could have been avoided if the suspects had just stopped," Follmer said Wednesday. "Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams chose not only to endanger their own lives but that of the public."

leebotx @ 6/14/2013 2:07 PM

I am not a supervisor in the Cleveland Police Dept or a fact witness to the incident, so any "judgment" I may have is only an opinion based on published accounts of what happened and has no effect on the outcome.
That said, I have no stake in the matter and couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of my “Monday morning quarterbacking”. I’ve seen lots of cops in my agency make mistakes that get them in trouble, hurt and even killed so I don’t apologize for asking critical questions that promote discussion. The justifiable use of deadly force is the response to an imminent threat of deadly force (vehicle or weapon in this case) by a suspect (Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy). I doubt 13 officers perceived a threat simultaneously and the fact that no gun was found at the scene tells me that this is a case of sympathetic fire initiated by 1 officer firing at a perceived threat. I cited other examples in an earlier comment. The bottom line, if we don’t get a handle on this within our community of LEO’s, the public and courts will.

LT @ 6/19/2013 6:06 PM

"leebotx" You have hit the nail on the head sir. Thank you for your honest judgement.

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