White cop cleared of manslaughter after jumping onto hood, firing 49 shots at unarmed black couple

The Cleveland cop who jumped onto the hood of a car and fired 15 shots at an unarmed couple killed during a gunfight with police has been found not guilty.

Michael Brelo, 31, broke down in tears as he acquitted in a Cleveland, Ohio, court of two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the deaths of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30.

The pair died during a 137-shot barage by police after a high-speed chase in November 2012.

Judge John O’Donnell said it was difficult to determine who delivered the fatal blow, adding that Brelo acted responsibly on the night of the incident.

The trial, which began on April 6, took place as high-profile killings of unarmed black men by white police officers continue to pile pressure on U.S. law enforcement.

Cop Cleared Car, btbBefore issuing his verdict, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell noted the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore over the deaths of black suspects but said he would not ‘sacrifice’ Brelo to an angry public if the evidence did not merit a conviction.

‘Guilty or not guilty, the verdict should be no cause for a civilized society to celebrate or riot,’ he said.

According to Cleveland.com, the Russell family was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the verdict’

Community and city leaders braced for the possibility of unrest in response to the verdict, which came as investigators work toward making a decision on whether charges will be filed in the death of a black 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun who was shot by a white rookie officer late last year.

‘We will get justice,’ said Art McCoy of the Black Man Army, a coalition of black leaders. ‘We are not happy with this verdict.’

Shortly after the verdict was reached, about 30 sheriff’s deputies stood in front of the courthouse bearing clear shields as protesters with bullhorns chanted. One demonstrator bowed his head with hands folded in front of the phalanx of deputies, praying in silence.

The deputies then moved inside the entrance of the justice center, and the plaza in front of the building was soon cordoned off.

Brelo briefly stepped outside with his attorneys but, for his own protection, he was moved back inside.

On Saturday Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams confirmed Brelo will remain on unpaid suspension until a critical incident report into his actions is completed.

Marcia Fudge, who represents Ohio’s 11th congressional district, said the verdict is a setback for justice.

She said in a statement: ‘The verdict is another chilling reminder of the broken relationship between the Cleveland Police Department and the community it serves.’

The politicians said the amount of bullets fired by the group of Cleveland officers as ‘extreme, excessive and unnecessary.’

She added: ‘We still have a long way to go toward racial equality and justice in Ohio, and in the entire United States of America.’

Brelo was the lone officer among the 13 who fired their weapons that night who was charged criminally because prosecutors say he continued firing four seconds after the other officers had stopped shooting.

The officer could have faced 22 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

Source: The DailyMail

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