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Ruling on Cleveland police chase questioned

| Sunday, April 20, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

CLEVELAND — A lawyer for families of men killed in separate 2012 shootings by Cleveland police — including a 137-bullet chase under federal investigation — is questioning a grand jury's role in a recent county prosecutor's ruling.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that Cleveland Patrolman Roger Jones acted lawfully when he fatally shot 20-year-old Kenneth Smith of Euclid in March 2012.

“Officer Jones did what an officer is trained and expected to do when faced with dangerous criminals firing weapons. He fulfilled his duty,” McGinty wrote in a letter to Cleveland police Chief Calvin Williams that accompanied release of his legal ruling.

Jones “correctly and heroically took action to protect the safety of the citizens of Cleveland,” McGinty said.

Attorney Terry Gilbert represents Smith's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Jones and the city that could be affected by the ruling.

“To say that he (Jones) was heroic, and that he did a service to the citizens of Cleveland, is insane, based on what we know,” Gilbert told public broadcasting station WVIZ.

Gilbert said a Cuyahoga County grand jury didn't hear from some key witnesses, including the investigator of Smith's shooting and Jones himself. Gilbert said it is unclear whether the panel received charges from McGinty to vote on, which is standard practice.

Cleveland's police department has been dealing with the fallout from a Nov. 29, 2012, chase that involved five dozen cruisers and wove through residential neighborhoods, onto Interstate 90 and ended with gunfire in East Cleveland. Officers fired 137 shots.

Both victims were black, and no weapon was found.

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