Cleveland Police Officer Charged With Two Counts of Voluntary Manslaughter

Michael Brelo

Officer Brelo (left) with his attorney

The incident, as determined by a federal investigation.involved 37 percent of the Cleveland Police Department, consisting of 62 police vehicles and more than a hundred officers. One however, now faces trial for two counts of voluntary manslaughter because he stood on the hood of an unarmed suspect’s car and fired 49 shots using his Glock 17.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Officer Michael Brelo and found charges against five supervisors for dereliction of duty. Brelo’s trial is scheduled to begin today, April 6, 2015. He has chosen to have a bench trial.

It happened on November 29, 2012. Timothy Russell was driving his Chevy Malibu and Malissa Williams was Timothy’s passenger. Cleveland police officer John Jordan stopped Timothy Russell for a signal violation. Jordan had seen Timothy and Malissa outside the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s men’s homeless shelter, which is a spot that the cops refer to as “the wall” because it is known for drug dealing. Officer Jordan stopped Timothy for a signal violation, but suspected Timothy and Malissa of drug activity. Timothy took off.

On Feb. 5, 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine gave a statement saying;

“To state the obvious, this chase could have ended without tragic results if Timothy Russell had simply stopped his car in response to the police pursuit. Perhaps the alcohol and the cocaine in his system impaired his judgment. We will never know.”

Timothy’s Malibu had a history of engine woes, and as he drove away from officer Jordan, his car backfired just as he passed another police vehicle near the city’s jail. The officer at that vehicle mistook the backfire for a gunshot.

Cleveland Police Officer Vasile Nan dispatched on the police department’s radio, “Popped a round off right as he drove by us. Use caution. Occupants are armed .”

For the next 22 minutes, Timothy Russell led police on a chase reaching speeds of 100 mph. When he pulled into the staff parking lot of the Heritage Middle School, he ran into a dead end. Police officer Wilfredo Diaz took the first shots at the Malibu. However, the other officers in the pursuit did not know it was Diaz and assumed it was Timothy and/or his passenger. It resulted in a situation of cross-fire where police shot into other police cars.

MalibuSpecial Prosecutor Tim McGinty put out a statement alleging that Brelo pulled the trigger on the kill shots;

“After more than 100 shots were fired at Mr. Russell’s car, it was trapped by police cruisers in a narrow lane and came to a full stop. All officers at the scene saw fit to cease fire. Then Officer Brelo started shooting again and fired at least 15 shots, including fatal shots, downward through the windshield into the victims at close range as he stood on the hood of Mr. Russell’s car.”

Regarding the actions of the police that night, DeWine stated,

“Lack of supervisor command and warnings … resulted in an overall failure to control the situation” and the large number of vehicles involved contributed to a crossfire situation … that risked the lives of many officers. It is, quite frankly, a miracle that no law enforcement officer was killed. Clearly, officers misinterpreted the facts. They failed to follow established rules.

Among the lack of supervisor command and control is that only 3 of the 62 police cars that took chase had been authorized to do so. There was confusion on the radio, causing more than 90 police officers to join pursuit without the requisite clearance by dispatch.

63 officers have been suspended, one supervisor was fired, and two more supervisors were demoted.

In December 2014, the Department of Justice released its report finding that the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Department of Police, engage in a pattern of practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

The families of Williams and Russell each reached $1.5 million settlements with the city.

If you prefer to hear/watch the DOJ’s findings as opposed to reading it, the video is the second below.




Posted on 04/06/2015, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild, Mallissa Williams, Timothy Russell and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 79 Comments.

  1. I can’t believe they didn’t plant a gun in the crime scene. /s

    62 police cars…. the adrenaline that must have been flowing. JHC.. What were they thinking?


    • Hey Mindyme! They were out to get a person who they believed shot at one of their own. When civilians do that, they call it gang vengeance.


      • Howdy Xena!!

        I can just imagine them turning into club toting cavemen when enraged. This sh*t has got to stop!


        • The bad ones impugn the reputation of those cops who are honorable in doing their jobs. There is no way for citizens to know the bad ones from the good ones.


    • 137 shots fired 62 patrol cars you tell me who was doing cocaine? and in the end all he is facing is man slaughter? are they serious here? Manslaughter is more of an accidental death type of charge.
      He didnt accidentally kill these guys he jumped on the hood of their car and made sure none of them came out alive. I would like to see if they even bothered drug testing this cop but even if they say they did we would never know.

      I agree I am surprised they didnt plant a gun, or throw out the whole we were in fear for our lives they went for our gun argument……

      I am not ANTI COP lets make that clear right now I am however ANTI Criminal W/a badge a gun and a chip on his shoulder


      • That’s me, not anti-cop. I’m just so sick of the double standard and lack of accountability.


        • EXACTLY! The accusations that I, “we” are “cop-haters” is nothing more than a false accusation in hopes that if the extortionists are investigated, they will use their own opinionated “evidence” to their benefit by prejudicing law enforcement against those who complain of their extortion and harassment.

          We have no choice on what officer comes when called, or is on the street without being called. Citizens must be able to trust all of them. Too many bad apples have tainted the law enforcement profession and it’s gone on for too long. It’s time for those with decision making authority to make changes so that law enforcement can be trusted at all times. Accountability is necessary.


    • roderick2012

      62 police cars…. the adrenaline (and steroids) that must have been flowing. JHC.. What were they thinking?

      Fixed it for you.


  2. Two sides to a story

    It’s encouraging that Keystone cops are now being hauled into court – it would be far more encouraging, however, to see them actually being found guilty of crimes and going to jail. I hope that America will get off its drug-like, flag-waving stupor of turning all cops into infallible heroes and get real and treat them as the fallible human beings they are. Many should never have been hired in the first place, and secondly, should have been fired for more minor things before participating in events of this scale like bloodthirsty wolves.


    • Hey Two sides! You said a mouthful! Recognizing that law enforcement are humans subject to making bad decisions is the start for holding them accountable. Maybe the cities should require them to have malpractice insurance the same as doctors and lawyers. Then, the insurance companies can decide when they are a risk and can no longer insure.


  3. Mr. Militant Negro

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.


  4. yahtzeebutterfly

    Horrific, so horrific!

    “UPDATES: Trial of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo underway”


    • So, because Brelo’s car was hit by bullets shot from the guns of cops, that justified him waiting until the shooting stopped to run onto the hood of the suspects’ car and shoot directly through the windshield?


  5. yahtzeebutterfly

    There is is continuous reporting at this site:

    “Second day of Michael Brelo trial will feature BCI, East Cleveland police testimony (live coverage)”

    Excerpt under today’s 9:51 entry:
    “On Monday, the prosecution played recordings of radio transmissions
    in which Cleveland police officer Vasile Nan reported shots fired near the Justice Center. Later in the recording another officer can be heard saying the Chevrolet’s occupants did not have a gun.”


  6. Here are highlights from yesterday.


  7. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Michael Brelo trial: Morning highlights for Tuesday April 7, 2015”


  8. Crime scene photos.


  9. Trial, afternoon highlights;


  10. It’s almost as if these Police Departments are in competition to see which ones are the most rogue. Cleveland pulls ahead and then you get news out of Chicago, Bill Bratton is still in charge in New York so they are always in the game, and LA gave us keeps giving us everybody from Rodney King to Ezell Ford. It’s so scary and so depressing.


    • Hey Ebrew! Just read a headline that an officer in South Carolina is being charged with murder for killing a suspect over the weekend. I’m watching the video on the news now. The officer took aim and shot the 50 year old suspect in the back.

      It’s very scary, because there is no way of telling an honorable officer from a dishonorable one, and no way of knowing how they perceive threats. I remember the video of the elderly man being ordered out of his truck, and he got out and reached for his walking cane and was shot by the officer.

      Could he have stepped away from the door of his truck without his cane? No. So if ordered to step away, and not having his cane, would he have been shot anyway out of suspicion that he had a weapon? The thing is, there are people who mean officers no harm, but they cannot obey physical commands, neither are they allowed to say anything.


      • yahtzeebutterfly

        I just saw the South Carolina video of it on the NYT article, Xena. Scary, frightening, and that killer just had a calm “ho-hum” attitude as he shot.


      • Exactly and black and brown people in particular do not get the benefit of the doubt because we are seen as criminal first and foremost. This is what we deal with daily.


        • Ebrew, I don’t if it’s a perception of being criminal, or being unworthy of life, or both. When I became aware of the killing of Ethan Saylor, it awakened me of perceptions of unworthiness. Ethan was White and Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is easily recognizable, but the 3 deputies decided to restrain Ethan rather than wait 5 minutes for his mom to arrive. Ethan did not know what was happening — he did not understand what was going on. Those 3 deputies broke Ethan’s larynx — they choked him to death. And, they got away with it.

          Those deputies apparently saw Ethan as a burden on society. Don’t we hear that now applied to Black teens? There’s a bigoted, clairvoyant prediction that had they lived, they would be a burden on society.

          When Eric Garner was placed in an illegal choke hold, I asked myself then, how many people knew about Ethan? Was it because they just didn’t know, or because “Black” was not in the headlines? Don’t get me wrong, unarmed Blacks and Browns are disproportionately killed by law enforcement, but it is going to take the families of all victims, and all people concerned, regardless of race, to advocate against the use of excessive force before politicians see it as an election issue.

          What I’ve noticed since 2008 is an attitude by some officers who kill unarmed minorities, is that they feel disrespected. With a minority President in the White House, it’s as if it’s a retaliation and excessive force is used to instill fear to put minorities back in their place. It’s likened to thinking, “How dare you run from me boy.” BANG!

          The double-standards got a foothold, and no one, regardless of gender, age, or race, is now safe. We are Americans. We are under the provisions and rights of the constitution. It is time that we deal with correcting wrongs as one people.


  11. yahtzeebutterfly

    One minute summary of today’s court proceedings:


  12. Here are the highlights from trial this morning, Wednesday.


  13. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Cleveland police officer refuses to testify during trial of fellow officer Michael Brelo (video)”


  14. yahtzeebutterfly

    Michael Brelo trial: Two more audio experts to testify Friday (live blog)


  15. Audio experts testified yesterday. Hmmm. I remember at Zimmerman’s trial that Judge Nelson thought it was “junk science.”

    Today, the judge and attorneys are going to visit the crime scene.


  16. Highlights from trial the morning of April 13, 2015.


  17. Recap of Monday’s trial. Interestingly, officers on the scene shared text messages and photos of the scene with each other.


  18. yahtzeebutterfly

    Updates during today can be found here:

    Michael Brelo trial: Forensic scientist returns to stand on Tuesday (live blog)


  19. yahtzeebutterfly

    Recap of court proceedings today (Day 7):


  20. yahtzeebutterfly

    Day 9


  21. yahtzeebutterfly

    Morning session today:


  22. Yahtzee, thanks for the updates. I’m going to try to catch-up on the trial this weekend.


    • yahtzeebutterfly

      YW, Xena,

      Excerpt from this linked article:

      Witness says Brelo told him Nov. 2012 deadly shooting “was like being back in the war”
      6:51 PM, Apr 17, 2015

      CLEVELAND – A Cleveland police lieutenant testified Michael Brelo told him the November 2012 chase and shooting “was like being back in war” Friday.

      “I don’t remember if it was Iraq or Afghanistan, but he told me that’s how he felt at the time,” said Lt. Mark Ketterer.

      Ketterer also said Brelo told him he was on the hood of Timothy Russell’s car during the incident.

      Brelo later told BCI investigators during a tape interview that he did not remember what happened during the shooting.

      Earlier Friday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty accused some Cleveland police officers of trying to cover up Brelo’s actions.


  23. yahtzeebutterfly

    Morning updates Day 11:

    Some of the entries (Katsaris is a “use-of-force expert):

    12:25 p.m. Katsaris being cross-examined by lead defense attorney Pat D’Angelo regarding his report, page by page. Katsaris says the Cleveland Police Department’s aggressive pursuit policy was violated. They ‘took aggressive’ too far with 62 vehicles in pursuit and supervisors should have controlled the pursuit.

    11: 55 a.m. When asked if Brelo’s actions were bizarre and negligent, Katsaris said they were bizarre because it is a series of incongruent actions and bizarre is not objectively reasonable. They are also negligent because they are not objectively reasonable.

    11:51 a.m. Katsaris says the Malibu was completely stopped and even Officer Coleman shouted that the Malibu was stopped and wasn’t going anywhere.

    11:48 a.m. Katsaris asked if Brelo’s actions of jumping on the hood of the Malibu put the occupants of the Malibu at risk and he says yes, because the Malibu had been stopped and wasn’t going anywhere.

    Katsaris says that Brelo should have stayed under cover and give verbal commands for them to show their hands.


  24. yahtzeebutterfly


  25. yahtzeebutterfly


  26. yahtzeebutterfly

    Day 13 Summary:


  27. yahtzeebutterfly

    Michael Brelo trial: Defense begins calling witnesses Monday (live blog)”

    CLEVELAND, Ohio — Defense attorneys will begin calling witnesses Monday following a judge’s decision not to dismiss the case against Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo.

    Brelo, 31, is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a Nov. 29, 2012 police chase and shooting.

    The defense moved for acquittal last week after the prosecution rested its case, arguing the prosecution could not prove who fired the shots that killed Russell and Williams.

    Judge John P. O’Donnell denied the motion Sunday, saying the prosecution presented enough evidence to warrant hearing the defense’s case.

    Defense attorneys are expected to call five out-of-town experts and two medical examiners. They have not indicated whether Brelo will take the stand.

    Follow our live coverage beginning at 9 a.m.


  28. yahtzeebutterfly

    Michael Brelo Trial: Day 14 morning session


  29. yahtzeebutterfly


    • Yahtzee, I really appreciate your keeping us up-to-date with the videos. However, I’ve been unable to watch them to catch-up. Can you tell us what angle the defense is taking? It appeared in the beginning that the defense didn’t know if it was going to allege that Brelo did not fire the fatal shots, or that he did and was justified in doing so.


      • yahtzeebutterfly

        Defense is putting forth the idea that Brelo was not the only one firing fatal shots…that fatal shots might have preceded Brelos shots from the hood of the car. However, the prosecution pointed out that the defense witness (a forensic criminologist) asserting this is NOT a medical doctor.

        Defense is trying to say that Brelo was reasonable in his actions.

        The day before, the defense’s audio experts disagreed with the prosecutor’s experts who said extra sounds were echoes of Brelo’s final shots from the hood of the Malibu. Defense experts say they were not echoes but the sounds of other officers’ shooting who were still in fear for their lives.

        Defense is also suggesting that Brelo might have been suffering from impaired vision that night because it was late in the night and dark and numerous cruisers had their lights on and were flashing their blue lights. (However, prosecution pointed out that Brelo did not complain of vision/sight problems.)


  30. yahtzeebutterfly

    Live updates here:

    9:19 a.m. The trial resumes. The first witness is Dr. Douglas C. Johnson, a psychologist from San Diego, California.

    9:29 a.m. In his report, Johnson addressed Brelo’s psychological state during the shooting and his inability to remember standing on the Chevrolet Malibu.

    9:36 a.m. Stressful events are heightened when they’re perceived as novel (new to the subject), uncontrollable and unexpected, Johnson says.

    9:44 a.m. Brelo was among several officers who gave statements that suggested they were operating under a “mental fog,” Johnson says. In the military, that state of mind is known as the “fog of war,” he says.

    9:49 a.m. Brelo said the conditions during the chase and shooting were consistent with those needed for “the most extreme stress response.”
    Johnson says Brelo was primed to identify a subject as a threat after the long chase. He says Brelo’s fears were reasonable given the circumstances.

    9:55 a.m. During high-stress situations, a person can have trouble perceiving surroundings. Memory also becomes less reliable, Johnson says.

    10:03 a.m. Johnson says Brelo exhibited a fight-or-flight response to the circumstances. Self-preservation is paramount in high-stress situations, he says.

    10:07 a.m. At the time, Brelo’s mental state was dominated by fear and he was focused on eliminating the threat, Johnson says. He says that is independent from whether Brelo followed police or military training.

    10:16 a.m. Johnson says if an individual’s retelling of an story changes, many people believe it is a sign of deception. However, he says memory can change over time, and people can remember new details when they retell a story.

    10:19 a.m. Johnson did not interview Brelo. He says “a lot of rich information and potentially more objective information can be gleaned from watching someone else interview” a subject.

    10:26 a.m. Judge O’Donnell asks for a clarification. Johnson isn’t confirming Brelo’s statement about being unable to remember being on the Malibu; he’s merely saying it’s reasonable an officer could experience memory loss in those circumstances.

    10:53 a.m. The trial resumes with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney James Gutierrez cross-examining Johnson.

    11:16 a.m. Gutierrez asks if an officer can overreact to a perceived threat. Johnson says that is a subjective call, but yes.

    11:22 a.m. Gutierrez asks if it’s possible officers were wrong when they told investigators they saw Malissa Williams pointing a gun at them during the case. Johnson says misconceptions can occur during high-stress situations.

    11:40 a.m. Gutierrez ends by suggesting police should rely on their training during high-stress situations. Johnson says the situation was so unique, officers couldn’t train for it.

    1:37 p.m. The trial resumes. The next witness is a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, psychiatrist Dr. James Knoll.
    The defense does not object to calling the witness out of order.

    1:54 p.m. Knoll says it’s common for violent offenders to claim they can’t remember events.

    He says statistics have indicated roughly 40 percent of violent offenders claim some form of memory loss, and roughly 20 percent of those offenders are exaggerating or feigning memory loss.

    1:57 p.m. Knoll says he disagrees with Johnson’s assessment that it isn’t necessary to interview a subject.
    Knoll says it’s critical to interview someone who is claiming memory loss, in order to test that person’s memory.

    2:05 p.m. Knoll concluded that limitations in Johnson’s report make it unreliable. Those limitations include the fact Johnson didn’t interview Brelo or test his memory.

    2:07 p.m. Knoll says it would be atypical for a person to remember a traumatic event shortly after it happened, then experience memory loss at a later time. He says that would be a “red flag” that would warrant further study.

    You can continue finding updates at the link I posted above.


    • yahtzeebutterfly

      3:45 p.m. We’re finished with evidence. Defense attorneys say they plan to move for acquittal again, but Judge O’Donnell has another commitment today.


      • Oh Yahtzee, your updates are very much appreciated. I would not know what has happened at that trial without your commitment of keeping us up-to-date. So, it sounds as if both sides have rested. Maybe there will be closing arguments tomorrow. Since it’s a bench trial, the judge might take time to enter a decision. If Brelo walks, it will be another situation of no justice, no trust.


  31. yahtzeebutterfly

    From today:

    1:17 p.m. The proceedings resume. Defense attorney Thomas Shaughnessy says the defense is renewing its request for an acquittal. The defense argued last week that the prosecution could not identify the shots that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

    1:20 p.m. Judge O’Donnell denies the request for acquittal without further explanation, but it’s likely the explanation is the same as the one he gave in his written ruling rejecting the earlier request for acquittal.

    1:23 p.m. The prosecutors announce they will not be calling police use-of-force expert W. Ken Katsaris as a rebuttal witness.

    They’ll have a short discussion about evidence before concluding for the day.

    1:25 p.m. Closing arguments will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday. We’ll continue our live coverage at that time.

    Judge O’Donnell said he’ll read at least part of his written verdict in court. It’s unclear when that will happen, but he said he does not expect a verdict anytime next week.


  32. yahtzeebutterfly

    A tweet with photo of person with sign:

    Another photo of #BlackSpring Cleveland at the Justice Center— Dante Boykin (@DanteB4u) May 2, 2015


  33. yahtzeebutterfly

    From May 1 update article:

    The judge and both sides finished entering exhibits into the court record.

    O’Donnell said not to expect a verdict from him either way until later next week. He said he will render a not guilty verdict if the prosecution has not proven every element of its two charges of voluntary manslaughter.

    O’Donnell said he will enter a verdict of guilty if the prosecution proves that Brelo did not have a reason to fear for his life, among other factors.

    O’Donnell also stressed that he will not be swayed “…by outside forces …” when it comes to considering his verdict.

    He said “…word has reached me….” that outside the courtroom, people are fearful that there could be “….some violent response no matter what the verdict is…”

    He said that, with his personal schedule — off next Wednesday and Thursday — and consideration for upcoming police memorial events, “I would not expect the verdict before May 15…” but that could change.

    Then O’Donnell adjourned until Tuesday’s closing arguments.


  34. yahtzeebutterfly

    Prosecution’s Closing Argument:

    10:02 a.m. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Erica Barnhill begins the prosecution’s closing argument by saying the “enormous chase” that ended in an “overwhelming use of force” began with small mistakes by officers.

    10:06 a.m. Barnhill says officer John Jordan made the first mistake when he stopped the Chevrolet Malibu on East 18th Street. The car then sped off, and Jordan chose not to pursue, but never called in the stop.
    “It was the first pebble in the avalanche of mistakes and misinterpretations that cost Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams their lives,” Barnhill says.
    Officer Vasile Nan then mistook the Malibu backfiring for the sound of a gunshot, Barnhill says.

    10:08 a.m. Barnhill says the chase became a “free-for-all” when it reached the Second District, with officers joining without receiving permission from supervisors. At least 62 police cars were involved in the chase, she says.
    “It goes to show the disregard for policy and training that pervades this case,” she says.

    10:12 a.m. Officers failed to report seeing the car backfiring, which could have explained the noise that sounded like a gunshot, Barnhill says.
    “No officer ever considered any other possibility other than that these people were shooting at the police,” she says.

    10:16 a.m. When officer Wilfredo Diaz fired at the Malibu in the East Heritage Middle School parking lot, officers jumped to the conclusion that someone in the Malibu fired shots, Barnhill says.
    She questions Brelo’s statement that he fired several shots inside the Malibu, then reloaded when his gun jammed. She says too many of his shell casings were found outside the car for that to be true.

    10:18 a.m. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Sherrie Royster takes over. By the time Brelo got out of his car and moved behind police car 238, Russell and Williams were surrounded, she says.
    “There was no escape for Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams at this time. It was impossible,” Royster says.

    10:23 a.m. Royster says Brelo’s actions were not the actions of a reasonable police officer. Brelo should have neutralized the threat, not eliminated it, she says.
    “Timothy Russell made some bad decisions that night. But it should not have been a death sentence,” she says.

    10:26 p.m. Brelo’s decision to climb onto police car 238 and continue firing at the Malibu was unheard of and unreasonable, Royster says.
    “His actions show that at that moment, his intent was to kill. He was knowingly trying to cause the deaths of Timothy and Malissa,” she says.

    10:29 p.m. Brelo put himself in danger when he climbed onto car 238, then stepped onto the Malibu’s hood, Royster says.
    She says that by the time Brelo fired 15 shots down at Russell and Williams while standing on the Malibu, he was essentially using them “as target practice.”

    10:34 a.m. Royster references testimony from officer Brian Sabolik and Lt. Mark Ketterer. Sabolik told the court he saw an officer standing on the Malibu. The following morning, Brelo identified himself as that officer, Sabolik testified.
    Ketterer testified that Brelo called him after the shooting, and that Brelo said he was “up on the hood of the car.”
    Investigators also found footprints on that Malibu that matched Brelo’s, Royster says.

    10:40 a.m. During the shooting there were two distinct volleys of shots. The first volley included the majority of shots, and the second volley included 15 shots fired by the same gun, audio experts said. Here’s a link to a video that includes the audio.
    The prosecutors have argued Brelo fired those 15 shots while standing on the Malibu.

    10:44 a.m. The prosecutors have been unable to identify which officers fired which shots, but Royster argues it’s possible to identify Brelo’s shots by their downward trajectories and the way wounds are grouped on Russell’s and Williams’ bodies.

    10:50 a.m. Royster shows text messages from officer James Hummel to police dispatcher Diane Ecke. In those messages, Hummel said he was fighting an “internal struggle” about what happened during the shooting, and that he believed neither Russell nor Williams had a gun.

    10:52 a.m. Royster says Brelo’s statement to investigators, given 11 days after the shooting, was “anything but truthful.”
    She questions his statement that he couldn’t remember climbing onto the Malibu or firing down at Russell and Williams.
    She argues that he was aware of his surroundings before that time, and that he remembered Russell and Williams were still moving.

    10:56 a.m. Royster concludes by saying the prosecution has proven that Brelo knowingly caused Russell’s and Williams’ deaths.
    She says the prosecutors appreciate police officers, but believe they should be held responsible for their actions.
    “The only way to do that in this case, to hold defendant Brelo responsible for his actions, is to find him guilty,” she says.


  35. yahtzeebutterfly


    Defense Closing Argument:

    11:08 a.m. Defense attorney Thomas Shaughnessy begins the defense’s closing argument.

    11:13 a.m. Shaughnessy says this case is not about hindsight. It’s about what happened in the moment. He notes that 12 of the 13 officers who fired shots that night were justified.
    Shaughnessy says the case is about 2.6 seconds. The prosecutors said there was an initial volley of shots, then a 1.6-second pause, then a middle shot, then a 2.6-second pause, then a final 18 shots. The prosecutors said Brelo fired 15 of those shots.

    11:19 a.m. Three medical examiners were unable to determine the order Russell and Williams sustained gunshot wounds, or which wounds killed them, Shaughnessy says.
    He argues that the defense’s medical examiner concluded several shots that caused fatal wounds were not fired by someone standing on the Malibu.

    11:26 a.m. Shaughnessy says the defense’s medical examiner reached her conclusions with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty.
    He moves on to Sabolik’s testimony.

    11:32 a.m. Sabolik told the court he stopped shooting because he saw someone standing on the Malibu, not because he felt the threat was neutralized, Shaughnessy says.
    Shaughnessy also argues that because Brelo fired just 15 of the final 18 shots, up to three other officers still perceived enough of a threat to continue shooting.

    11:34 a.m. During the 2.6-second pause before the final volley, Sabolik was advancing toward the Malibu to get a better shot, Shaughnessy says.
    Defense attorney Pat D’Angelo takes over.

    11:40 a.m. “Reacting and risking one’s life is not the same as using illegal force,” D’Angelo says.
    He poses a hypothetical: How would critics and naysayers feel if officers found a gun inside the Malibu?

    11:43 a.m. D’Angelo says the prosecution’s use-of-force expert, W. Ken Katsaris, concluded the chase and shooting were “complicated.” He also concluded it was reasonable for officers to believe someone in the Malibu fired shots, and to pursue the car.

    11:49 a.m. D’Angelo argues Katsaris’ report — which also says Russell’s failure to stop “lent credibility” to officers’ beliefs that the Malibu’s occupants were dangerous — conflicts with the prosecutors’ own description of the chase.

    11:53 a.m. In 2012, Cleveland officers did not receive annual training on the department’s pursuit policy. They were only trained at the academy, D’Angelo says.
    D’Angelo argues the officers who joined the chase did so out of a sense of duty, and to serve and protect.

    11:59 a.m. D’Angelo says, “we’ll never know” if Russell or Williams did have a gun, but disposed of it during the chase.
    He points out that autopsy results showed Russell had alcohol and cocaine in his system, and Williams had marijuana and cocaine in her system.

    12:01 p.m. Three officers testified that they did not perceive two separate volleys of shots, and that they did not hear anyone yell “cease fire,” D’Angelo says.

    12:03 p.m. D’Angelo questions the quality of Katsaris’ report. The report does not mention Brelo climbing onto car 238, only the Malibu, he says.
    D’Angelo says Katsaris performed a cursory review of the case before writing his report

    12:07 p.m. D’Angelo argues the prosecutors only presented evidence that supported their case, and failed to point out some facts relevant to the incident.
    He says the defense attorneys have confronted Brelo’s use of force rather than avoid talking about it.

    12:13 p.m. D’Angelo argues that prosecutors never presented specific evidence about police training, even though they consistently said Brelo violated his training.
    He argues Brelo was acting on instinct to preserve his only life, because he perceived shots being fired at him.

    1:06 p.m. D’Angelo says that if Brelo wanted to lie, “he could’ve come up with a better account” than forgetting being on the Malibu. He says officer Brelo has never denied being on the Malibu; he’s only said he couldn’t remember.

    1:10 p.m. D’Angelo calls Brelo’s actions instinctive, selfless and fearless. He says Brelo was “scared to death” during the shooting.
    He says other officers told state Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents they were scared, too, and became emotional during their interviews.

    1:15 p.m. “The evidence is clear: Officer Brelo reasonably perceived he was being shot at by the occupants of that Malibu,” D’Angelo says.

    1:20 p.m. D’Angelo argues that the fact Brelo put himself in danger by climbing onto car 238 and the Malibu is irrelevant.
    “The fact officer Brelo made a split-second decision and endangered his life is not evidence whatsoever that his use of force was illegal,” D’Angelo says.

    1:25 p.m. D’Angelo criticizes Dr. Andrea Wien, who testified about Timothy Russell’s autopsy. She testified that someone standing above and to Russell’s right fired a shot that hit Russell’s head and would’ve killed him within seconds.
    “If you had an occasion where you received treatment from Dr. Wien in a hospital, would you not go get a second opinion very quickly?” D’Angelo asks.

    1:30 p.m. D’Angelo references Katsaris’ testimony in State v. White. The 6th Ohio District Court of Appeals’ decision in that case includes the following passage:
    “Katsaris pointed out that the combined effect of the wall of light and the high-decibel sirens likely so disoriented McCloskey that he could not see White and would barely hear his commands.”
    D’Angelo argues the circumstances in Brelo’s case were similar enough that lights and sirens could disorient him, too.

    1:36 p.m. That decision also says:
    “In deadly-force cases involving both armed and unarmed suspects, courts have accepted the action-reaction principle on facts justifying the officer’s anticipatory use of his weapon to protect himself. In other words, a nascent threat can be sufficient; it need not materialize to the point of harm.”

    1:52 p.m. D’Angelo continues to reference case law related to police chases and shootings, including the U.S. Supreme Court decision “Plumhoff v. Rickard.”

    1:56 p.m. D’Angelo concludes his closing argument.


  36. yahtzeebutterfly


    Prosecution’s Rebuttal:

    2:11 p.m. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rick Bell begins the prosecution’s rebuttal.

    2:14 p.m. Only Brelo was in a position to fire four lethal, downward shots that hit Williams and seven lethal, downward shots that hit Russell, Bell says.
    The prosecutors have argued six lethal shots hit Williams and 11 hit Russell. The defense argued that two shots that hit Williams’ head, which the prosecutors categorized as postmortem, were also premortem and lethal.

    2:24 p.m. Bell argues that blood evidence shows Russell and Williams were alive when Brelo was on the Malibu.

    2:30 p.m. Bullet holes on the Malibu also show Brelo was firing when he was on car 238, then continued to fire as he stepped onto the Malibu, Bell says.

    2:39 p.m. Bell questions testimony from the defense’s medical examiner, who did not consult with the two medical examiners who performed the autopsies.
    “The state would suggest that the people who actually do the autopsies would know better,” Bell says.

    2:48 p.m. The defense’s medical examiner, Dr. Susan Roe, said Russell and Williams might have died before Brelo fired shots at them while standing on the Malibu.
    Bell says the prosecutors’ two medical examiners determined their hearts were still beating, and says Roe did not perform those calculations.

    2:55 p.m. “At the very least, the defendant is guilty of committing voluntary manslaughter of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams on the hood of the car with these shots,” Bell says, while referencing the lethal shots that prosecutors say Brelo fired from the Malibu’s hood.

    3:02 p.m. “The defense in this case poses a new standard for what’s objectively reasonable,” Bell says. He adds that the defense is arguing that if officers perceive a threat, “anything goes.”


  37. yahtzeebutterfly


    3:05 p.m. Bell says Brelo shot at Russell and Williams like they were “fish in a barrel,” not human beings with rights to due process.

    He says Brelo’s actions were egregious, and that Brelo must be held accountable.

    Assistant Prosecuting Attorney James Gutierrez will conclude the prosecution’s rebuttal.

    3:08 p.m. Gutierrez says “this is not about bashing the cops. This is about holding [Brelo] responsible for his actions.”

    He says prosecutors have not argued Brelo is a bad man, but they believe he made a bad decision.

    3:12 p.m. Gutierrez says officers let their emotions get the better of them during the chase, and that their adrenaline reached a crescendo by the time the chase reached Heritage Middle School.

    3:15 p.m. Gutierrez argues other officers stopped shooting because they saw Brelo on the Malibu. Only Sabolik told investigators he saw an officer on the car.

    “Holy mackerel, one of us is on the hood!” he says while imitating the other officers.

    3:20 p.m. Gutierrez is arguing that officers saw Brelo on the hood, knew it was wrong, and failed to tell investigators.

    3:23 p.m. Gutierrez questions how Brelo could tell Sabolik he was standing on the Malibu, then forget by the time he spoke to investigators.

    3:27 p.m. Gutierrez says if Brelo stayed behind car 238 and continued to shoot, “we wouldn’t be here.”

    Judge O’Donnell asks what justification Brelo would have to shoot from there, and not while he was on the cars.

    Gutierrez says he had cover behind car 238, and had time to assess the situation while he was there. He adds Brelo’s actions were not “objectively reasonable.”

    3:32 p.m. Gutierrez says he is not using hindsight to “Monday-morning quarterback.” He says Brelo’s actions were unreasonable in the moment.

    “We’re asking our officers, based on our training, not to be compelled by fear to kill people,” he says.

    3:39 p.m. Gutierrez argues the defense’s use-of-force expert, Ron Martinelli, overstepped when he opined on Brelo’s mental state and whether there was reasonable doubt in the case. Martinelli is not qualified to testify about those subjects, Gutierrez says.

    3:43 p.m. While Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams had personal issues — including struggles with drugs — they had families and were loved, Gutierrez says. He adds there was no evidence they had a gun that night.

    Even though Russell failed to stop during the chase, “it’s not comply or die,” Gutierrez says. “These individuals did not deserve to die the way they did.”

    3:47 p.m. Gutierrez implores Judge O’Donnell to use his common sense when assessing the case.

    He says police are expected to behave professionally, and that Brelo should be held accountable for his actions.

    3:48 p.m. Gutierrez concludes the prosecution’s rebuttal.

    Judge O’Donnell thanks both sides for their professionalism throughout the trial. He says he’ll call one attorney from each side two hours before the verdict. He says he won’t wait for anyone before reading it in court.

    He does not expect a verdict before late next week. Last week he said he might not issue a verdict before Cleveland Police Week, which runs May 14-17.


  38. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Verdict for Cleveland police officer charged in deadly chase and shooting could take days or weeks”


    CLEVELAND – The verdict for Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo is not expected to come Monday, but could actually take days or weeks.

    In a statement from the administration at the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, they said Judge John O’Donnell is not expected to make a decision as early as Monday.

    The statement also said that although the case is a priority for Judge O’Donnell, he must manage the Brelo case with the other cases on his docket. He also has to take time to ensure he can go over all of the Brelo testimony and evidence accurately.


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