“I Don’t Recall That, Sir.” Testifies Ohio Cop Who Fired 15 Rounds Into Car While Standing On the Hood
Michael Brelo jumped on the hood of a car after a high speed chase through the streets of Cleveland and fired 15 times. This brought the total amount of shots fired on the vehicle to 137. Yes, police fired shots one hundred and thirty-seven times at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams; the occupants of the vehicle.
According to YahooNews:
“It’s possible,” Brelo allowed when questioned by investigators two weeks after the November 2012 shooting, “because I was so terrified that I was going to get run over.”
Brelo, 31, goes on trial Monday on two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the deaths of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30. He is the lone officer among the 13 who fired their weapons that night who is charged criminally because prosecutors say he stood on the hood and opened fire four seconds after the other officers had stopped shooting.
A judge — not a jury — will decide whether Brelo is guilty or innocent. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years if convicted.
Two things to point out here are that Brelo is the only officer – even though 12 other cops fired shots that night – on trial and that a judge will decide his fate, not a jury.
The Yahoo article goes on to add:
The chase started with a failed traffic stop on the edge of downtown by a plainclothes detective who never reported to dispatchers that he’d lost sight of the vehicle. Russell then sped past Cleveland police headquarters, where his car backfired. Officers and witnesses standing outside were certain they’d heard gunshots and a police radio call for shots fired triggered an adrenaline-fueled rush by officers to join the chase.
Brelo and his partner were two of the first officers to join the pursuit that ultimately included more than 60 police cars, 104 officers and reached at least 100 mph.
Brelo and his partner fired 15 rounds through their own windshield and told investigators they saw dark objects in Russell’s and Williams’ hands. Brelo said he left his cruiser because he said he was afraid the Malibu would hit him, even though he then crossed in front of the car to climb on top of another cruiser and open fire again.
“I had leapt trying to get out of the way of this car so it doesn’t run me over and kill me,” he told investigators.
Investigators eventually concluded that neither Russell nor Williams had a gun. An exhaustive search was conducted along the route of the pursuit, including the use of a dive team to look in bodies of water, but no gun was ever found.
While Brelo claimed not to remember jumping on the hood, prosecutors have evidence to show that he did. Investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation found footprints on the hood of the Malibu that matched a set found on the trunk and roof of a police car that Brelo had climbed on top of to fire from behind the light bar.
A rookie police officer assigned to the same district as Brelo told investigators that he stopped firing after “someone” jumped on the hood of the Malibu. Officer Brian Sabolik said he later learned it was Brelo.
Asked how he found out, Sabolik said: “Because (Brelo) was talking about it.” (Emphasis added)
It’s obvious that more than just Brelo overreacted here, but I guess the problem is training since – according to the same article, “the U.S. Justice Department probe that concluded Cleveland police officers have shown a pattern and practice of using excessive force. The city and federal authorities are negotiating a consent decree to reform the police department that will cost the city millions of dollars to implement and enforce. Cleveland has already paid $3 million to the families of Russell and Williams to settle a lawsuit.” The conclusion that police use excessive force is laughable because all police use excessive force. If you ask me, a man in a jacked up cruiser, with flashing lights, speeding down the road after you, while armed and with a shiny badge because you sped by him, is pretty excessive.
I believe that the only outcome of this is that taxpayers will give a clearly inadequate police force millions of dollars (more) and officers will use this merely as a, “Don’t mess up like Brelo” example. Yet, the police will continue to kill, like they did when they shot Tamir Rice – a 12 year old boy, and use excessive force because, simply put, that’s what they do.