Runaway U-haul leads Strongsville officers on chase through Cleveland

Effort to curb "inter-jurisdictional" pursuits
Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 03, 2016

A high-speed chase involving a runaway U-Haul van ended in a violent crash on Cleveland streets, but the city’s own officers had nothing to do with it. Now, News 5 has learned efforts to limit those so-called “inter-jurisdictional” pursuits have been put on hold.

News 5 just obtained video of that September 1 chase, initiated by Strongsville Police following a call for a burglary at a Strongsville jewelry store.

The video showed officers pursuing that cargo van through several different jurisdictions, eventually ending up on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland. The van can be seen flying down busy streets and even a McDonalds parking lot, dangerously running red lights and weaving in and out of oncoming traffic.

The van crashed into a tree and a crossing signal pole. The driver was arrested, but video shows an accomplice rolling out of the moving van just minutes before the crash.

South Euclid Police Chief Kevin Nietert is also president of the Cuyahoga County Association of Police Chiefs. Chief Nietert said an effort, put for by Cleveland, to draft a county-wide chase policy has been put on hold because a statewide collaborative is expected to put forth its own recommendations.

“I think the issue with pursuits regardless of the jurisdiction is they generally are high risk,” Chief Nietert said, adding he has concerns about the the implementation of a statewide plan.

“Everybody’s different and I don’t believe there’s really a one size fits al policy that you can create,” he said.

But Ward 8 Cleveland City Councilman Michael Polensek supports some sort of regional protocol, especially since the city’s own officers are only allowed to pursue in cases involving violent felonies and OVI’s, can’t exceed 35 miles per hour and can’t leave city limits.

“Nothing good comes out of them, nothing,” Polensek said. "We have been very fortunate in this county that no one has been killed.”