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 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.


Latest Canada & World News

  • NATO trying to get better at predicting Russia's next move: Latvian commander

    World News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- While NATO is determined to improve its ability to predict the Kremlin's next move, a senior Latvian commander concedes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to keep the military alliance guessing in recent years. Source
  • H.R. McMaster out as national security adviser, Trump taps John Bolton

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday picked as his new national security adviser John Bolton, a hawk who has advocated using military force against Iran and North Korea and has taken a hard line against Russia. Source
  • McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump's national security adviser

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump is replacing national security adviser H.R. McMaster with the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, injecting a hawkish foreign policy voice into his administration ahead of key decisions on Iran and North Korea. Source
  • Steve Bannon blames Republican establishment for Roy Moore's defeat

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK - Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is blaming the Republican establishment for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore's defeat, saying GOP leaders pushed pedophilia accusations against him. Bannon says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was too quick to back away from Moore, who faced charges of sexually abusing underage girls. Source
  • Woman claims she wasn't drinking before crash — she was texting

    Canada News CBC News
    Call it the lesser-of-two-evils defence: a B.C. woman is fighting the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia's refusal to honour her insurance claim by arguing that she was texting, rather than drinking, before she crashed. As a result, a Kamloops provincial court judge hearing a pretrial application has ordered Angela Seeley to divulge both her weight, to help determine if she was impaired, and her cellphone records to the insurer. Source
  • Jamaican flight crew member charged with smuggling cocaine taped to his legs

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Federal authorities say a flight crew member arrived at New York's Kennedy Airport from Jamaica with four packages of cocaine taped to his legs. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Fly Jamaica Airways crew member Hugh Hall was arrested on Saturday and they seized about 9 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of about $160,000. Source
  • 16 northern Ontario First Nations being connected to power grid in $1.6B project

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A new agreement between Ontario First Nations, the federal government and the province will see 16 northern communities connected to the power grid. The $1.6 billion project will be completed in 2023 and will shift the communities from dependence on diesel fuel for power to the provincial electricity grid. Source
  • Bruce McArthur case prompts review of how Toronto police handled missing men

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- How Toronto police handled the cases of men missing from the city's gay village will undergo some form of external review in light of six murder charges laid against an alleged serial killer, the police oversight board decided on Thursday. Source
  • Russian embassy calls Trudeau's criticism of Putin 'confrontational'

    World News CBC News
    The Russian embassy is firing back at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin at a news conference this week. But a leading expert on Russia and the Arctic is dismissing the dust-up as the result of a mistaken prime minister, and a junior Russian diplomat with an itchy Twitter finger. Source
  • Alberta's balanced budget plan relies on pipelines and debt climbing to $96B

    Canada News CBC News
    Alberta's path to balanced budgets is built on hopes for construction of three new pipelines, including the controversial Trans Mountain expansion, plus reaping extra revenue generated by the federal carbon tax. But the five-year plan unveiled Thursday in the province's 2018-19 budget will also see accumulated debt climbing from $54 billion in the coming year to a whopping $96 billion by 2023. Source