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Investigators find nine officers violated policies in police chase that left 13-year-old girl dead

Tamia Chappman killed in December 2019
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Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 19:06:48-05

CLEVELAND — The head of Cleveland's Office of Professional Standards announced Tuesday that an investigation into the deadly December 2019 police chase that killed 13 year-old Tamia Chappman in East Cleveland found nine officers violated policy policy.

Roger Smith made the announcement during a virtual meeting of Cleveland's Civilian Police Review Board.

"OPS, as of today was, prepared to present its case and has completed its investigative work and has made findings, including substantiated findings against nine different officers in this case," said Smith.

But it's not clear what those findings are or which officers are involved.

The Civilian Police Review Board pushed a scheduled hearing on the case back one month so that members would have more time to study investigators' findings.

The mother of Tamia Chappman's best friend, Zelda Mason, filed the complaint against police after Mason and Chappman were struck while walking down the sidewalk by an SUV being pursued by Cleveland police officers following a carjacking in a Target parking lot on West 117th Street.

Chappman died from her injuries.

Last December, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams announced a departmental review of the chase found officers were justified in pursuing what the chief called a "violent, fleeing felon."

At the time, the chief said the review did find what appeared to be minor allegations of things officers did not do exactly right during the pursuit, but would not elaborate.

A police spokesperson said the matter is still under review within the division.

Following Tuesday's announcement by OPS, the attorney representing both Mason's and Chappman's families said investigators' findings are proof the department's review of the chase was "inadequate at best."

"The reality is that when you have an auto accident of that magnitude and someone’s killed, and you have kids being let out of school at that time, you have officers in excess of 60 miles an hour, close to 70 or 80 miles an hour — I don’t understand in what world is that following policy?" said attorney Stanley Jackson. "What policy allows you to do that?"

If the police review board agrees with investigators’ findings that policies were broken, it will then recommend discipline in the case.

Ultimately, it will be up to the police chief to decide whether or not to accept those recommendations.