That’s a lot of of numbers for a headline. Here are a few more to complete it.
Following an unarmed couple fleeing a routine traffic stop in Cleveland back in December 2012, a total of 104 police officers — that’s right, one hundred and four — joined in a 25-minute pursuit where 13 officers fired a total of 137 bullets at the couple and their car. The driver, Timothy Russell, was shot 23 times and the passenger, Malissa Williams, was shot 24 times. While some speculated that the two may have been armed at the very least to garner such a forceful response, no actual weapons were recovered from either person or the vehicle.
Huffington Post quoted a lawyer representing the Russell family as saying, “You just can’t help but wonder how so many officers were able to shoot so many bullets at these two people in this vehicle,” while a patrolman/criminal justice professor said, “Police officers are authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves and others from great bodily injury or death. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stand there and let somebody run me over.”
Just as in the recent Washington D.C. car chase that reportedly ended in the death of Miriam Carey, no comment was made on why the couple was shot a combined total of 47 times instead of shooting out the car’s tires to render the vehicle unable to pose a threat or continue the chase.
Now, even though it has been ruled that 75 out of 104 officers broke rules in the chase, only 63 have been suspended (and only for a matter of days each):
With so many suspensions, the Cleveland Police Department must find a way to carry out the disciplinary actions without compromising the city’s safety. District commanders issued suspension letters to patrol officers on Tuesday, police said. While many suspensions are effective immediately, others will wait to ensure there’s no shortage of officers patrolling the streets.
(Because everything about these people patrolling the streets just screams “safety”. Let’s continue…)
“But more importantly, relative to this pursuit, it was the lack of engagement of the supervisors that allowed this pursuit to continue on,” [Cleveland Police Chief Michael] McGrath said at a news conference held by the Cleveland Division of Police.
McGrath said 12 police supervisors have undergone disciplinary hearings resulting in nine suspensions, two demotions and one termination.
As for the police officers involved in the chase, their actions were not found serious enough to deem termination, McGrath said. The most severe punishment is up to ten days of suspension, with most ranging between one and six days, totaling up to 178 days of suspension amongst the 63 officers. (source)
So many officers have been suspended at this point that the Cleveland Police Chief is concerned about the city’s safety. That punishment averages less than three days suspension per officer punished. At least officers are actually being held accountable in this particular story of police abuse of power (again, even if only for a few days).
If anyone needs any further proof that America has descended into a total police state, this story should be it. The only crime these people allegedly committed was running away unarmed.
What exactly about that requires 104 officers to hunt them down and put nearly 50 bullets into them? The two had minor priors and sure, they could’ve been hiding something illegal in the vehicle, but even if the entire car was filled with crack from roof to road so that the people sitting in it barely had room to fit in the car, would it have been worth the insane police state response that followed?
To get a basic idea, the infamous O.J. Simpson police chase, where he fled from police upon suspicion of murdering his wife and her lover 19 years ago only involved about 20 cop cars, and Simpson was armed with a gun.
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