Did Car Backfire Trigger Cleveland Police Chase Leading to Two Deaths?


Car backfire could have triggered a 25-minute, high-speed car chase in that ended with two people in Cleveland dying in a hail of police gunfire, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Police officers said they heard gunfire come from a 1979 Chevrolet Malibu SS parked. The family of victim Timothy Russell, speaking for the first time, indicated that the car was not working properly and that “it’s possible” that what police heard was the car backfiring.

“It had a bad muffler,” said David Russell Jr., who had given his brother Timothy, 43, the car a few months earlier. Sister Michelle Russell was adamant that her brother was unarmed. “He was not a violent man and did not own a gun,” she said. Police say that someone fired on them in front of the Justice Center and they believed the shots came from Russell’s vehicle. The 1979 Malibu being driven by Russell likely had a carburetor, making it more prone to backfires than fuel-injected cars that became popular in the mid-1980s, experts told the newspaper.

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