Attorneys: Cleveland police violated internal policies in pursuit that ended in 13-year-old's death

Attorneys for the family of the girl killed when a suspect drove a stolen vehicle onto a sidewalk allege police were 'reckless' during the pursuit

Evan MacDonald
Advance Ohio Media

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Attorneys for the family of a 13-year-old East Cleveland girl killed during a Cleveland police chase called it “reckless" and argued Friday that officers did not take precautions to prevent her death.

Attorneys for the The Cochran Firm accused the Cleveland police department of failing to protect Tamia Chappman during a Friday news conference with her mother, Sherrie Chappman, and her cousin Eileen Cunningham at the East Cleveland Public Library.

Tamia, who family members referred to as “Mimi,” was walking to the library Dec. 20 when a car at the center of a chase with Cleveland police struck her. The car was stolen at gunpoint outside a Target on Cleveland’s West Side.

“Simply put, Tamia died because the city of Cleveland police department put more value in recovering a stolen car than [they] put in the value of Tamia’s life,” attorney Shean Williams of The Cochran Firm said during the news conference.

A Cleveland police spokeswoman declined to comment on the news conference Friday, and said the chase and crash remain under investigation.

A 15-year-old boy is charged with murder and other offenses related to the carjacking and crash that killed Tamia. Detectives said a second boy was seen running away after the deadly crash, but investigators have not announced any other arrests in the case..

The Cochran Firm is still looking into the matter, and has not filed filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Chappman family, attorneys Williams and Stanley Jackson said during the news conference. The attorneys asserted that Cleveland officers violated their own internal policies governing police chases, as well as a state law that requires them to take precautions during pursuits.

Williams said the chase was unnecessary, particularly in the middle of the afternoon as children were getting out of school.

“There is no excuse in this country, and in this city, for anyone to lose their life because police are [engaging] in a dangerous activity to recover stolen property,” he said.

Cleveland’s chase policy allows officers to chase suspects in violent crimes, including aggravated robbery, to prevent further violence on other victims.

The city revised its policy in 2014. The revision came two years after 62 police cruisers chased a car into East Cleveland on Nov. 29, 2019. In that incident, more than a dozen officers fired a combined 137 gunshots that killed the unarmed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

Jackson said East Cleveland residents are outraged that a Cleveland police chase ended in deadly fashion in East Cleveland for the second time in seven years.

“They feel as if they’ve been disrespected and marginalized,” Jackson said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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