CLEVELAND, OH — Police radio recordings raise questions about whether a supervisor told officers not to pursue a driver who crashed and died minutes later on Cleveland's East Side Wednesday night.
Cleveland police said they pursued the driver after he tried ramming officers near East 93rd Street and Dickens Avenue around 9:30pm Wednesday.
Police radio recordings captured a supervisor tell officers they did not have permission to continue the pursuit and ordered offers to terminate the chase.
But witnesses said that chase appeared to continue.
Anthony Peacock said he was pulling a car into his repair shop at the intersection of East 111 Street and Forest Avenue when he was hit by the driver fleeing police.
"They were definitely chasing him," said Peacock. "I witnessed that. They were chasing him."
Peacock said there was no warning.
"They didn't have sirens on, they didn't have lights on so everybody can move back and out of the way," said Peacock. "It was something that just snuck up on us. We didn't even know it was coming."
Peacock said after the car hit him, it sliced through a utility pole and flipped and landed upside down in the intersection.
Police said as they approached the car, they heard a gunshot.
Officers pulled the driver out of the car as it caught fire, but the driver, identified by the medical examiner's office as 28 year-old Richard Gaines, died at the scene.
Police said officers did not return fire.
A cause of death has not been released.
Peacock said the whole ordeal was unbelievable.
"It was very scary, that's all I can say," said Peacock. "It was like it would be in the movies or something. I can't imagine."
A Cleveland police spokesperson has not responded to a phone call and email asking about witness claims that police continued the pursuit after it was called off.