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Family attorneys of Tamia Chappman seek $20 million settlement demand against city of Cleveland

by Jul 22, 2022Local News

Attorneys for the family of Tamia Chappman on Thursday sought a $20 million settlement from Cleveland and again demanded accountability for the officers involved in the chase that caused the child’s death.

The family’s lawsuit against the city has been pending in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for more than two years. Tamia’s mother, siblings and attorneys announced the settlement demand in front of Cleveland City Hall.

Attorneys Shean Williams and Stanley Jackson said the city has 30 days to respond. Sarah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Mayor Justin Bibb, said the administration cannot comment on pending litigation. An attorney representing the city, Kenneth Calderone, declined to comment.

Tamia and friends were walking to the East Cleveland library for a Christmas program when she was struck by a car driven by 15-year-old D’Shaun McNear. He had carjacked a woman at Target on West 117th Street on Dec. 20, 2019.

An off-duty police officer witnessed the incident, and officers chased McNear through Cleveland and onto Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland, where Tamia was struck and killed. She was 13.

McNear was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Williams and Jackson said the officers did not receive serious discipline for their actions.

Williams said the officers involved in the chase were not familiar with the city of East Cleveland.

“What’s even more disturbing about that, despite not being familiar with that area, and despite not knowing when (Tamia) got out of school, they made the conscious decision to have a chase on Euclid Avenue with speeds in excess of 89 miles,” Williams said.

Additionally, attorneys learned that the automatic-vehicle location system did not work in any of the patrol cars that pursued the stolen vehicle. That prevented supervisors from estimating the speeds and locations of the pursuit cars.

Williams also called the investigation incomplete, even after Calvin Williams, then the city’s police chief, promised Tamia’s family an independent and thorough investigation.

Lt. Gregory Farmer, the lead investigator in the case, was one of the officers involved in the chase, the attorneys said.

He failed to interview witnesses and did not get an on-the-record testimony of the officers involved, the attorneys said. He also waited two months after Tamia’s death to search for surveillance cameras.

“That’s not objective,” Shean Williams said.

Attorneys have called on the city to ensure that location systems in patrol cars are working. They also pushed for the proper training of officers to force officers to follow the department’s policies and procedures.

“We’re here asking the mayor, the City Council, the law department to do the right thing, to hold these officers in the city accountable for what happened to Tamia,” Shean Williams said.

Tamia Chappman

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