6 Cleveland Cops Charged in ‘Racially Motivated Execution’ After Firing 130 Shots at Unarmed Black Couple in Schoolyard
Six Cleveland police officers have been charged in the shooting of an unarmed black couple in which officers fired 137 shots following a car chase.
Though the incident happened in 2012, it’s still unclear why 43-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Williams fled the cops. When police caught up with them, however, they opened fire on the car, killing the unarmed pair inside.
One officer, Michael Brello, actually got up on the car’s hood and fired 15 shots through the windshield. The other officers had stopped firing their weapons but Brelo continued to reload and fired almost 50 shots at the couple inside.
Brelo has been charged with two counts of manslaughter but the other five officers merely face misdemeanor charges and aren’t expected to see any jail time.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty said “this was now a stop-and-shoot – no longer a chase and shoot. The law does not allow for a stop-and-shot.”
Russell was shot a total of 23 times. Williams was hit with 24 bullets. No weapons were found inside the vehicle.
McGinty said “let’s be clear what happened here. He was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over. The public was no longer in danger because the car was surrounded by police cars and 23 police officers in a schoolyard safely removed from pedestrians and traffic.
“The primary danger facing the police at this time was from themselves, if they continued to shoot at each other in the circular firing squad they had inadvertently formed. After the ceasefire, Office Brelo unleashed an unlawful, second barrage of shots.”
Paul Cristallo, the attorney representing Russell’s family, said “this is a historic event. Prosecutors have indicted an officer for manslaughter in an excessive force case. That just doesn’t happen. You have to have faith in the system… the fact that these felonies have been brought against Brelo is unprecedented.”
The other five cops are supervisors who have been charged with dereliction of duty for “failing to control the chase.”
If convicted, Brelo faces eight to 11 years in prison for each manslaughter charge.