In a verdict that defied common sense, Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted on two counts on manslaughter despite climbing on the hood of a car and firing 49 rounds through the windshield at two African-American occupants.
The chase and the shooting began when Russell and Malissa Williams’ car backfired as Russell sped past Cleveland police headquarters. The backfire was mistaken for a gunshot, and the high-speed chase that ensued resulted in more than 100 Cleveland police officers firing 137 shots at two unarmed African-Americans.
Brelo was acquitted today despite the fact that he fired 49 of the 137 shots take at the two unarmed suspects. Brelo even reloaded his weapon twice while standing on the hood of the car.
The LA Times reported that Cleveland Police refuse to meet with prosecutors as the case went to trial:
Before Officer Michael Brelo’s trial began, 16 Cleveland police officers declined to meet with prosecutors to review their testimony about the officer’s shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
Once the case reached a courtroom, seven officers exercised their 5th Amendment rights and refused to testify about Brelo, who prosecutors say leaped onto the hood of Russell’s car after a lengthy pursuit and fired 15 rounds from his pistol, killing both occupants.
Officer Brelo was charged because he fired the final 15 shots after the car was stopped. Brelo got off because it could not be determined that he fired the fatal shots. In essence, the Cleveland Police came up with a new method of executing unarmed African-Americans. It is a version of the firing squad. With so many cops firing shots, it is impossible to determine who killed the two victims.
It defies common sense that Michael Brelo is walking the streets again. The two victims were mentally ill and on drugs, but none of this is a reason for police to use overwhelmingly excessive deadly force.
If Russell and Marissa Williams were white, it is doubtful that the police would have responded in the manner that they did. The ability of the police to get away with murder was taken to a whole new level with the announcement of today’s verdict.
In a story that is becoming all too common, two unarmed African-Americans are dead, and a white police officer will face no punishment.