Lawyers for the mother of the two injured children said the police should have stopped the persecution instead of endangering the health and welfare of the community.
The mother of two siblings accidentally injured during a police high speed chase has filed a lawsuit against the City of Cleveland and several law enforcement officers.
According to Cleveland.com, Cleveland police have been pursuing juvenile robbery suspects across town. While trying to evade officers, the suspects turned onto a sidewalk, where they beat and injured a 12-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy.
The couple had just left school and were going to a library with several friends when the crash occurred.
One of the children – Tamia Chappman – died after the collision.
Cleveland.com reports that the lawsuit, filed in Cuyahoga County Court, accuses Cleveland city and 17 police officers of ruthlessness and negligence in prosecuting the robbery suspects.
Wooden mallet on black, reflective surface; Image via pxhere.com, CCO.
The chase, according to Cleveland.com, led officials and suspects through residential areas at vehicle speeds of up to 75 mph.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys allege Cleveland police officers should have known better than to allow a high-speed hunt in a residential area. In their lawsuit, the family states that the risk to members of the greater Cleveland community was not worth the opportunity to immediately identify the suspects now being charged with robbery and carjacking.
The mother – identified by FOX8 as Zandra Mason – says her children have not only suffered physically, but continue to experience psychological trauma.
“My children have grief survival, PTSD, and have problems with nightmares,” Mason said.
One of Mason’s two children allegedly held Chappman’s hand in the crash.
“Zelda Mason was actually holding Tamia Chappman’s hand when both were hit … She had severe injuries to her shoulder, neck and back, and brain trauma,” said attorney Stanley Jackson, who represents the plaintiffs.
As of Tuesday, the City of Cleveland had declined to comment on FOX8, stating it had not yet reviewed a copy of the lawsuit and generally did not comment on ongoing litigation.
Jeff Folmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, tried to divert the guilt from the officers involved, suggesting that – while the crash was tragic – the fleeing robbery suspects should be blamed more than prosecuting law enforcement.
“It is a tragedy that there was a loss of life. Our officers have been investigated and found to be part of Cleveland’s police policy and vehicle tracking process. It is a shame these days that we blame the officials more than the criminals who committed the violent crimes, “Folmer said in a statement.
However, Jackson was quick to point out an unfortunate flaw in arguments like Folmer’s – as well as why many law enforcement agencies have policies prohibiting officers from pursuing suspects when car chases could be conducted through densely populated or otherwise high-traffic areas.
“Property is exchangeable,” said Jackson. “These children, their innocence, their life is irreplaceable.”
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