Cleveland firing 6 police officers involved in 137-shot barrage

Cleveland officials said Tuesday they are firing six police officers involved in a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed black people after a high-speed chase.

See Full Article

Those officers included Michael Brelo, a patrolman acquitted of manslaughter charges in May for having fired the last 15 shots of the barrage in East Cleveland on Nov. 29, 2012. The chase began when officers standing outside police headquarters mistook the sound of a beat-up Chevrolet Malibu backfiring as a gunshot.

Six more officers who fired during the barrage face suspensions ranging from 21 to 30 days, said Public Safety Director Michael McGrath, the former police chief. A total of 13 officers had been notified they faced administrative discipline, and one of them has retired, McGrath said.

The president of Cleveland's largest police union, Steve Loomis, vowed to fight the discipline and said grievances appealing the firings were filed with the city Tuesday. He described the firings as unbelievable, unprecedented and politically motivated.

"It's tragic that it went down this way, but at the end of the day, two people high on crack cocaine, high on marijuana, one of them intoxicated, made the decisions that they made and we responded to them," Loomis said. "And we responded within our training."

The officers had been cited for joining the chase or leaving the city without permission. More seriously, some were accused of endangering other officers by creating or contributing to a crossfire situation.

McGrath said officials reviewed hundreds of pages of related documents and multimedia to reach decisions on discipline.

"It was very difficult. ... But at the end of the day, there were general police orders. There are manual rules and regulations that we expect officers to comply with," McGrath said. "If they didn't comply with those particular general police orders or manual rules and regulations, I sustained charges."

The high-speed chase involved 62 police cruisers and more than 100 officers. The shooting killed both occupants of the car. Timothy Russell was hit by 24 shots, Malissa Williams by 23.

Authorities never learned why Russell didn't stop. He had a criminal record including convictions for receiving stolen property and robbery and had been involved in a previous police pursuit. Williams had convictions for drug-related charges and attempted abduction. Both were described as mentally ill, homeless and addicted to drugs. A crack pipe was found in the car.

Of the officers who fired, only Brelo faced criminal charges. Prosecutors said he stood on the vehicle's hood and fired inside repeatedly after the car had stopped and its occupants were no longer a threat.

Defence attorneys said the officers involved in the chase and shooting had probable cause to believe the people in the car were a safety threat. Brelo's disciplinary letter cites that and also notes that he fired 49 times, more than double any other officer involved.

Investigators eventually concluded Russell and Williams weren't armed.

Loomis said the officers were right to chase the car because Russell fled at a high rate of speed. After the car stopped, the first shots were fired after Russell used the car as a deadly weapon and drove at an officer, Loomis said.

The shooting preceded a monthslong U.S. Department of Justice investigation that concluded Cleveland police engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights. The city negotiated an agreement to make changes overseen by an independent monitor.

It also paid a $3 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by relatives of Russell and Williams.

Dorothy Sigelmier, Williams' aunt, told cleveland.com she felt "OK" about the officers' discipline but wished they had ended up in jail. She said she's forgiven them.

-----

Associated Press writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • More stalkers using technology, StatsCan says

    Canada News CTV News
    The number of stalking incidents in Canada decreased over a 10-year period, but technology has changed the way victims are stalked, according to a new Statistics Canada report. The report, published Wednesday, looked at the prevalence of stalking, as reported by victims, across Canada between 2004 and 2014. Source
  • Supporters of newly freed Diab want inquiry into his extradition to France

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Supporters of Hassan Diab, recently freed by French authorities, want a public inquiry into his extradition on suspicion of murder. Diab's lawyer, Donald Bayne, says Canada never should have sent the Ottawa sociology professor to France. Source
  • Erotic zone: Laval imposes new rules on sex businesses

    Canada News CTV News
    The southwestern Quebec city of Laval has introduced new measures to limit strip clubs, sex shops and massage parlours to one industrial zone. City officials in Laval, Que. voted to adopt the amendments to bylaw L-2000 on Tuesday night. Source
  • Ex-CIA officer arrested, charged with keeping documents

    World News CTV News
    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A former CIA officer has been arrested and charged with illegally retaining classified records, including names and phone numbers of covert CIA assets. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, was arrested Monday night after arriving at JFK International Airport. Source
  • Lac-Megantic jury deliberating for seventh straight day

    Canada News CTV News
    SHERBROOKE, Que. -- Jurors are deliberating for a seventh consecutive day today at the trial of three men charged with criminal negligence causing death in the Lac-Megantic railway disaster. The 12 jurors sent the judge a letter Tuesday telling him they were at an impasse. Source
  • Ontario family 'disheartened' by ruling that Ft. William sanatorium not a residential school

    Canada News CBC News
    The family of an 84-year-old Indigenous woman who tried to get a former sanatorium in what is now Thunder Bay, Ont., designated as a residential school says they're "disheartened" by a recent ruling. Ruth Ann Henry was the applicant in an amended request for direction, filed in 2014, to get the "Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium School" added to the residential school settlement agreement. Source
  • Across the U.S. South, it's snow, ice and record-breaking cold

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- The South awoke Wednesday to a two-part Arctic mess that caused problems as far south as the Gulf Coast. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, then came the freezing wind chills and record-breaking low temperatures in New Orleans and other cities. Source
  • Two bodies found in home west of Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    OAKVILLE, Ont. -- Police say they're investigating after two bodies were found in a home west of Toronto. Halton Regional Police released few details of the scene they found at the home in Oakville, Ont. Source
  • Bitcoin slumps below $10K US, then rebounds even as regulatory fears intensify

    World News CBC News
    Bitcoin skidded below $10,000 US on Wednesday, halving in value from its peak price, with investors gripped by fears regulators could clamp down on the volatile cryptocurrency that sky-rocketed last year. The price of bitcoin, the world's biggest and best known cryptocurrency, fell to as low as $9,315 US on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, the lowest since late November 2017 Source
  • Canadian reported kidnapped on road to capital in Nigeria

    World News CBC News
    Kidnappers have abducted one Canadian and one American in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing two police officers, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. They were ambushed by unknown gunmen around Kagarko on their way from the city of Kaduna to the capital Abuja, Mukhtar Aliyu, a spokesman for the Kaduna state police, said by phone. Source