A jury acquitted a Cleveland police supervisor Friday for her role in a police chase that ended in two unarmed black people killed and 137 shots fired at them more than six years ago.
The jury deliberated for about two hours before reaching its verdict to toss out the dereliction of duty charge against Sgt. Patricia Coleman, who was a passenger in a police cruiser leading the chase, according to the Ohio news website cleveland.com.
The 22-mile, 125-mph chase started Nov. 29, 2012, near the downtown Justice Center when an officer reportedly mistook the sound of a car backfiring for gunfire.
It attracted more than 60 police officers who joined in the chase and led to 13 officers firing gunshots, ultimately killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams at a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland, cleveland.com reported.
Vice unit detective William Miranda was driving the cruiser Coleman rode in when Russell’s old, blue Chevrolet Malibu pulled into the parking lot and left their cruiser behind by hopping a curb and speeding away, cleveland.com reported.
Although Coleman was not one of the officers who fired in the incident, prosecutors argued her vice subordinates violated several traffic laws during the chase and that she should be held legally responsible for their actions.
Supervisors from the First, Third and Fifth police districts ordered their officers to pull back their involvement during the chase.
But Coleman and Sgt. Randolph Dailey, another supervisor involved in the incident, were accused of not doing more to prevent the situation from escalating.
Dailey’s trial was postponed last week because his defense attorney, Henry Hilow, was in federal court Monday to settle an unrelated lawsuit, according to cleveland.com.
In that incident, a retired police officer allegedly armed with a knife and padlock tied to a handkerchief accused a group of Black cops of beating him up over what officers called “racially motivated terminology,” the news outlet reported.
Lawyers on both sides would not disclose the settlement amount in that incident Monday, but the families of Russell and Williams were awarded $3 million in a settlement related to their deaths, according to cleveland.com.