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

  • Snow arrives to southern B.C. but weather agency downplays earlier predictions

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's south coast is known for its temperate weather and mild winters, but that norm is being turned on its head this year as temperatures dip and the region is blanketed in snow for the second time in less than a week. Source
  • Encounter with a cop 'made' boy's day after rough year

    Canada News CTV News
    After a difficult year, Nicholas Tyrrell walked into his elementary school classroom Friday, with a newfound spring in his step. After all, the six-year-old student had just received an official patch from a Toronto police officer on duty outside his northwest Toronto school. Source
  • Prince Andrew to press: End false stories about daughters

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Britain's Prince Andrew is asking the media to cease "speculation and innuendo" about his daughters, and denies he's feuding with elder brother Prince Charles. Andrew, the third of Queen Elizabeth II's four children, released a strongly worded statement Friday slamming recent newspaper stories "that have no basis in fact. Source
  • Liberals have to 'work very hard' on refugee file in new global context: McCallum

    Canada News CBC News
    The man tasked with bringing thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada says that while most Canadians were quick to embrace them, his government still "has to work very hard" to convince some people to embrace these new arrivals. Source
  • No more Tims for man who says mouse found in cup

    Canada News CTV News
    STEWIACKE, N.S. - A man who says he pulled a dead mouse from a cup of Tim Hortons coffee is asking for an apology from the restaurant chain. Jim Elliott says he bought two take-out coffees two weeks ago from the outlet in Stewiacke, N.S. Source
  • Man acquitted of raping woman in front of husband in 1995

    Canada News CBC News
    Jack Kramer has been found guilty of break and enter and possession of a weapon, but not guilty of the more serious charges of forcible confinement and sexual assault related to a 1995 attack on a woman in her home. Source
  • Boy, 16, arrested following threat against central Ontario schools

    Canada News CTV News
    BRACEBRIDGE, Ont. - Provincial police have arrested a 16-year-old boy after a threat was made via Twitter on Friday morning involving the Trillium Lakelands District School Board in central Ontario. As a result, all Trillium Lakelands schools -- both elementary and secondary -- in Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County, and Muskoka were put into a hold and secure. Source
  • Women sue groom, event company after being hit by drone

    World News Toronto Sun
    BRENTWOOD, N.H. — Two women are suing a groom and the event company that ran his wedding reception after they allege he flew a drone that hit them in the head at the New Hampshire event. Kneena Ellis, of Seabrook, and Kelly Eaton of Peabody, Massachusetts, claim in their Dec. Source
  • Firefighter: Warehouse missing from fire-inspection records

    World News Toronto Sun
    SAN FRANCISCO — The illegally occupied Oakland warehouse where dozens of partygoers perished in a blaze does not appear in a database fire inspectors use to schedule inspections and may never have been checked for fire hazards, a firefighter with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. Source
  • Obama orders review of election campaign hacking

    World News CBC News
    A White House official says the president has ordered a review of the email hacking that rattled the presidential campaign. U.S. President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco says intelligence and national security officials were told to report their findings to the president before he leaves office on Jan. Source