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Cleveland police chief calls for discipline of dozens of cops

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - Seventy-five Cleveland patrol officers face disciplinary action for a deadly chase last year that ended in the shooting deaths of two unarmed civilians in a car.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said Friday an investigation found the officers violated departmental rules and regulations in the November 29 chase that involved 104 of the 277 officers on duty at the time.

The 74 current officers and one who has since left to become a fireman should be disciplined in some form, he said in a news conference.

Twelve supervisors have already been punished, including nine who were suspended, two demoted and one terminated, McGrath said.

Discipline of the 74 officers could range from written reprimands to suspensions to terminations, the chief said. Those decisions will follow pre-disciplinary hearings.

"The process of helping our community move forward has begun and the review helps us continue on that path," McGrath said in a blog. "The review process has been thorough and the results have been fair."

McGrath said the administrative review involving the 75 officers focused solely on the pursuit, not the use of deadly force, which is being separately investigated by prosecutors.

The chase resulted from a routine traffic stop, spurring particular concern in the African-American community that undue force was used. The driver of the car, Timothy Russell, and the passenger, Marissa Williams, were black.

Officers reported hearing gunshots from Russell's 1979 Chevy. After a 25-minute chase, and after Russell hit a police cruiser and drove toward an officer, police cornered the car in a school parking lot and fired on it. When it was over, 13 officers had fired 137 rounds at the car.

No guns or gunshot residue was found in the car. The chase involved 63 police cars.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Richard Chang)

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