Cleveland to Pay $4.8 Million to Family of Teenager Killed in Police Pursuit


The city of Cleveland will pay $4.8 million to the family of a 13-year-old girl who was killed in December 2019 when she was struck by a stolen car driven by a teenage carjacker during a police pursuit, the city said on Monday.

The settlement was announced nearly four years after the family of the girl, Tamia Chappman, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against 22 officers of the Cleveland Police Department who the family claimed were involved in an “egregiously reckless and unnecessary pursuit.”

Stanley Jackson, a lawyer for the Chappman family, said at a news conference on Monday that the settlement amount was believed to be the largest paid out in Ohio related to a police pursuit case.

“We believe that shows that Tamia’s life mattered and will change how Cleveland and other area police departments go about their business,” Mr. Jackson said. “Tamia shouldn’t have had to lose her life.”

Sarah Johnson, a spokeswoman for the city, said in a statement on Monday that the decision to settle the case had been an “extremely difficult one,” adding that the city had to consider that the pursuit had begun because of a “violent armed carjacking.”

“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,” Ms. Johnson said. “On the other hand, a 13-year-old girl was tragically killed, leaving her family, friends and entire community in heartbreak.”

Sherrie Chappman, Tamia’s mother, said at the news conference on Monday that the settlement would not bring her any closure.

“I’ll never get my daughter back,” she said.

The day before the pursuit, on Dec. 19, 2020, D’Shaun McNear, who was 15 at the time, stole a 72-year-old woman’s car after holding her at gunpoint, court records show. The following day, Mr. McNear held another woman at gunpoint, this time in a Cleveland-area Target store, and stole her car, according to court records. Mr. McNear sped off in that woman’s car and was soon spotted by an off-duty police officer, who followed him onto an interstate, court records show.

What followed was a winding chase through residential streets in Cleveland and east of the city during which Mr. McNear at times drove faster than 90 miles per hour.

“The city of Cleveland didn’t follow its own policy, didn’t follow its own procedure, didn’t have common sense, during the chase,” Mr. Jackson said.

The Chappman family claimed in the lawsuit that the officers involved in the chase violated the Police Department’s policy by not ending the chase when the pursued vehicle was driving at excessive speeds.

Eventually, Mr. McNear swerved around a bus, struck a car in oncoming traffic and drove onto a sidewalk where several children were heading to a library, according to court records.

Mr. McNear struck Tamia, killing her, and severely injured an 11-year-old, court records show.

The officers involved in the pursuit were not disciplined, Mr. Jackson said. The Cleveland Police Department did not immediately respond to several requests for comment on Monday.

“There are no winners or losers in a case as tragic as this one,” Ms. Johnson said in her statement. “While it is easy to point fingers one way or another, the fact remains that if the armed carjacker never committed that crime, then Tamia would still be here with us today.”

Mr. McNear was sentenced in 2021 to at least 26 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to several crimes related to the carjackings and the crash, including aggravated robbery, theft, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated vehicular assault, court records show. Mr. McNear, now 19, is serving his sentence at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in southwestern Ohio, records show.

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