Cleveland police fired a sergeant and meted out demotions and suspensions Tuesday for a car chase last year that involved five dozen cruisers, 137 rounds of ammunition fired by 13 officers, and the death of two people who, it turned out, probably were unarmed.
A captain and lieutenant were demoted, and nine sergeants got suspensions ranging from one day to 30 days. They and the fired sergeant will appeal their punishment, according to Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8, which represents police supervisors.
Dozens of cruisers became involved in the chase without permission from superiors and with little direction, according to a state report released earlier in the year. The episode damaged the department’s relationship with residents and must be repaired, Chief Michael McGrath said at a news conference Tuesday.
“That means we have to work a little harder on our end,” he said.
In March, the U.S. Justice Department said it was opening a wide-ranging civil-rights investigation into the use of force by Cleveland police, looking beyond the chase to analyze several years of excessive-force claims and police policies, training and procedures.
But the upheaval from the Nov. 29 chase alone is likely to spread through the ranks. More than 100 patrol- level officers involved in some way face disciplinary hearings beginning in July.
And 13 officers who fired their weapons as the chase ended in a blocked-off school parking lot in East Cleveland face a county grand jury investigating possible criminal wrongdoing.