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

  • Ont. teen subject of Amber Alert wasn't actually abducted, police say

    Canada News CTV News
    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Police in Peel Region west of Toronto say a 15-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Monday was not kidnapped as initially suspected. The alert had cited witnesses as saying the girl had been forced into a van in Mississauga by two men. Source
  • Okla. shooting victim saved by plate in neck: investigators

    World News CTV News
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Investigators say a metal plate in an Oklahoma man's neck saved him from paralysis or worse when he was shot. Robert Thurman told 911 dispatchers Friday that his sister Gretchen Thurman shot him, The Tahlequah Daily Press reported. Source
  • South Korean court denies request to arrest Samsung Group chief

    World News CBC News
    A South Korean court on Thursday denied a special prosecutor clearance to arrest the head of Samsung Group, the country's largest conglomerate, amid a graft scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Source
  • Virginia man who killed noted musician and his family is executed

    World News CBC News
    Virginia has executed a man convicted of killing two young girls and their parents during a New Year's Day home invasion more than 11 years ago. Authorities say 39-year-old Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. Source
  • Alaska volcano erupts again, sends ash cloud to 31,000 feet

    World News CTV News
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska volcano active since mid-December has erupted again. Bogoslof Volcano in the Aleutian lslands erupted at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday and sent up an ash cloud estimated at 31,000 feet. The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the aviation threat code to red, the highest level. Source
  • Hardworking Winnipeg server gets life-changing $1,000 tip

    Canada News CTV News
    A Winnipeg restaurant server thought one of her customers was out to lunch when she received a life-changing $1,000 tip on Saturday. Jennifer Peitsch choked back tears of joy as she asked if the woman’s extravagant gratuity on an $87.15 meal at Mongo’s Grill was indeed real. Source
  • Dramatic video shows two armed robberies in central Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    Two separate, but equally frightening, armed robberies were caught by surveillance cameras in central Alberta. During the past month there have been a number of armed robberies in the area, which are being investigated by RCMP. Source
  • So long from White House: Obama aims final messages at Trump

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Barack Obama stepped behind the White House podium for the last time Wednesday, fielding questions from the crush of journalists crammed in for the occasion and offering assurances to Americans watching on TV. But at times, his answers seemed aimed at an audience of one: the man who will replace him at noon Friday. Source
  • PM Trudeau should protect Kathy Katula from trolls: Tory MP

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Justin Trudeau must protect real Canadians like Kathy Katula from Liberal trolls and haters, a Conservative MP says. Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre came to the aid of Katula — the 54-year-old Buckhorn, Ont. grandmother who made headlines for her emphatic plea to the PM to not pile the carbon tax onto her as she’s already towing the poverty line — and said Trudeau needs to as well. Source
  • WikiLeaks' Julian Assange backs away from extradition pledge

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange retreated from his pledge to accept extradition to the U.S. if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency, arguing Wednesday via his lawyers that what he was really asking for was an immediate pardon for the ex-Army analyst. Source