Officials call for heightened security ahead of ruling in case of officer Michael Brelo – facing manslaughter charges after firing 49 shots into a car after a 2012 chase – as residents grow frustrated with lengthy Tamir Rice investigation.
One night in November 2012, Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was seven hours into his shift when he heard over the police radio that a car had just “popped a round” as it passed Cleveland police headquarters downtown. A few minutes later, Brelo saw another police car chasing a 1979 Chevy Malibu and joined in the pursuit. Over the next 20 minutes, 60 patrol cars and 100 officers would be involved in chasing the car and its two occupants.
Officer Brelo was near the front throughout the chase, until police boxed in the car in a middle-school parking lot. The two people in the car, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, both African Americans and unarmed, died under a hail of 137 bullets.
Brelo, 31, a five-year police veteran who had never fired his service revolver while on duty, shot 49 bullets into the car. The last 15 of those 137 shots came from Brelo’s Glock 17 pistol while he was standing on the hood of the Malibu, where he fired downward through the windshield of the car and into the two bodies in the front seat.
Brelo was charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for his firing from the hood of the car, and though there were about a dozen other Cleveland police officers firing at the car in the school parking, he was the only one charged in the death. The month-long trial ended on Tuesday as both sides presented their closing arguments to a judge, who is expected to rule in the coming weeks.
Two weeks after the Brelo trial began on 6 April, Freddie Gray died in police custody in Baltimore, leading to a week of protests. The judge in the Brelo trial, Ohio governor John Kasich and Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson all indicated that the Baltimore protests have caused for further security details to be put in place once the verdict is rendered. Jackson sent out a memo last week to police officers to have their “emergency equipment” ready in case of protests.
Read more: The Guardian