CLEVELAND – The City of Cleveland Friday issued a statement about its preparations for peaceful protests following the announcement of the Michael Brelo verdict.
Judge John O’Donnell is expected to announce next week his finding on voluntary manslaughter charges against Cleveland Patrolman Michael Brelo stemming from a November 2012 police chase and shooting that left two civilians dead.
The verdict will determine whether the patrolman committed a crime when he jumped onto the hood of Timothy Russell’s car and fired 15 shots through the windshield at the conclusion of the incident.
Mayor Frank Jackson said in the statement Friday, “It is my expectation that protests remain peaceful and do not undermine the progress this community has made in ensuring that all citizens receive the respect they expect and deserve. Actions that cross the line – by citizens or police officers – cannot and will not be tolerated. We are all One Cleveland and we want the same thing: peace, dialogue and positive change.”
The release continues:
During these potential protests, the City of Cleveland wants the community at large to:
- Know that people have a right to protest peacefully
- Understand that developments are fluid and situations may change quickly.
- Be cautious and alert, but don’t be paralyzed by fear.
- Avoid situations or areas where you may be concerned about your safety.
- Use common sense, show respect, and remain patient.
- Businesses and the community should remain alert to developments and use appropriate judgment. The City will closely monitor conditions and rumors and provide frequent updates as situations warrant.
Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, led Cleveland Police on a 23-minute high-speed chase from downtown Cleveland to East Cleveland the evening of November 29, 2012.
The chase started when an officer thought he heard a gunshot come from Russell’s Chevy Malibu outside the Cuyahoga County Justice Center. Investigators later determined the car backfired.
As officers around the city heard radio reports involving an officer being fired upon, they joined the chase.
By the end, 62 Cleveland patrol cars were involved in the chase. It ended when officers blocked Russell and Williams in the parking lot of Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland and then opened fire.
13 Cleveland police officers, including Brelo, fired a total of 137 bullets. Brelo fired 49 of the shots.
Brelo told BCI Investigators he had no recollection of being on the hood of the Russell’s car, but that he had shot at Russell and Williams because they were still moving and he believed they were armed and dangerous.
Russell was shot 23 times. Williams was shot 24 times.
Investigators later discovered the two suspects were unarmed.