Police Abuse

Cleveland Settles For $3 Million in Fatal Car Chase That Ended With 13 Cops Firing 137 Shots, Killing Two


Timothy Russell and Marissa Williams
Cleveland PD

Without any major filings or motions from either side, the city of Cleveland settled a wrongful death suit with the families of Timothy Russell and Marissa Williams for $3 million. Russell and Williams were killed by police at the end of a car chase that most likely started when a cop mistook the backfire of a car for a gunshot.

Of the 13 officers involved in the fatal shooting, only one was indicted, for involuntary manslaughter. Five other cops were charged with dereliction of duty for allowing the chase to escalate. They've all pled not guilty.

The Plain Dealer compares the settlement to some previous ones Cleveland's made:

In 2003, the city paid $1.9 million in the case of an 8-year-old boy who was struck by a stray bullet from a detective's gun. The officer had been scuffling with a suspect when the gun fired, and a bullet pierced the child's internal organs. The boy recovered and later returned to school.

In 2008, Cleveland paid $1 million to the family of 16-year-old Ricardo Mason, who was killed by police after a car chase in 2002. Police claimed the driver tried to pin the officers with his car after patrolmen approached it, prompting officers to fire at the car.

In 2012, Cleveland paid $900,000 to former state prison guard Martin Robinson, whose violent confrontation with a group of vice officers nearly ended with Robinson and officers shooting at each other outside a prison fence. Robinson claimed officers attacked him and falsely arrested him. He claims the attack has left him unable to work.

A probate judge has to approve the settlement as "fair" before it's finalized.

An attorney for Michael Brelo, the officer who fired 49 shots, 15 from the hood of Russell's car, said the settlement didn't affect his client's case, insisting the victim's families "bootstrapped themselves on the investigation and have used it for their case."