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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Deadly Police Car Chases

     It took 137 bullets, 62 police, 22 minutes, 13 shooting officers and two fatalities to end the police chase of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Cleveland police officers began pursuing the light blue 1979 Chevy Malibu carrying the pair at about 10:30 PM on November 29, 2012. Authorities suspected the two were involved in drug activity. At some point the car was believed to have backfired, causing several officers to think shots were fired at them. Police did not find a gun in the car and those close to the pair say they don't know why Russell didn't stop the car. In the end police shot 43-year-old Russell 23 times and passenger Malissa Williams, 30, 24 times.

     Two years later, a debate ignited by the deaths of Russell and Williams was spreading across the country as violent deaths and injuries caused authorities to rethink chase strategies. In Cleveland and in cities nationwide many experts, police departments and everyday citizens were questioning how and when police officers should conduct such pursuits.

     While chases have gone on for decades, mounting concerns about public safety and excessive force claims were fueling police changes in states like Florida, Kansas, and California. In 2014, the Cleveland Police Department adopted a restrictive police chase policy: officers could only chase those suspected of a violent felony or driving while intoxicated. The move was part of a growing national trend among departments to limit chases…

Yamiche Alcindor, "After Cleveland Shooting, Cities Restrict Police Chases," USA Today, June 28, 2014

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