Cleveland will pay $4.8 million to family of bystander teen killed in high-speed police chase

The city of Cleveland, Ohio, will pay $4.8 million to the family of a 13-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a car fleeing police, a spokesperson for the city and an attorney for the girl’s family told CNN.

Tamia Chappman was walking on a sidewalk with a group of friends in December 2019 when she was hit by a vehicle involved in a high-speed chase with officers from the Cleveland Police Department, a complaint states.

The police pursuit followed the armed carjacking of a 72-year-old woman outside a grocery store, according to a statement from the city.

“They were arrested, later convicted of crimes related to both incidents, and are currently serving decades-long prison sentences,” the statement said.

“The criminals were quickly identified and cowardly chose to flee from police leading to the tragic death of an innocent 13-year-old girl,” Cleveland spokesperson Sarah Johnson said in the statement.

In 2020, Chappman’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against 22 Cleveland officers, calling the pursuit “egregiously reckless and unnecessary.”

Police officers work at the site of the crash in which Tamia Chappman was killed. - WEWS
Police officers work at the site of the crash in which Tamia Chappman was killed. - WEWS

Claims dismissed this week

The Chappman family and the city of Cleveland on Monday “mutually (dismissed) all claims against each other with prejudice,” court records show.

“We felt that resolving this case at this point would be best for the family,” attorney Stanley Jackson said during a Monday news conference following the dismissal of that case. Jackson said $4.8 million is the largest police-pursuit settlement in Ohio history.

“We believe that shows, that Tamia’s life mattered and will change how Cleveland, and other area police departments, go about their business as it relates to the value of life and property,” he said.

The decision to settle the case “was an extremely difficult one,” Johnson said.

“On one hand, you have police officers who were trying to do their job to remove violent armed individuals from the streets so they couldn’t victimize more people and commit additional violent crimes. On the other hand, a 13-year-old girl was tragically killed leaving her family, friends, and entire community in heartbreak.”

Tamia’s mother, Sherrie Chappman, said the settlement does not bring her closure. “I’ll never get my daughter back,” she said during Monday’s news conference.

“But I feel OK about it, and I just really want the police to stop the chases.”

The Cleveland Police Department did not issue a separate statement.

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