_Cleveland Cop Michael Brelo Found Not Guilty Of Killing Unarmed Couple

A Cleveland police officer has been found not guilty after he stood on the hood of the victims car and shot inside the vehicle, killing two unarmed black occupants. His colleagues had already fired more than 100 times into the vehicle. Check out the photos in the gallery and also a video of the verdict in the courtroom and read more on the story after the jump!

Cuyahoga County Judge John P. O’Donnell, reached the verdicts after a several-week trial and declared that Officer Michael Brelo will not face charges of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a 20-minute car chase. The Judge declared that Brelo jumping onto the car and firing 15 shots into the vehicle after his colleagues already shot inside the car was constitutionally justifiable because it wasn’t clear that any perceived threat to the officers was over. People outside of the courtroom began expressing their disapproval of the verdict. Some people held up signs that said, “All I know is that I don’t trust police no more. No police. None…I can’t recover from this…This verdict isn’t real. This verdict is fake.” The killings of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were among several police incidents prompting protests in Cleveland in the past few years when an officer also shot and killed 12 year old Tamir Rice there.

What led to the deaths of Russell, 43 and Williams, 30 was a chase that began when a car driven by Russell backfired a noise that officers thought was caused by gunshots and more than 60 police cars pursued the vehicle for 20 miles and hit speeds of more than 100 mph. When the chase ended in the parking lot of a middle school, about a dozen officers fired 137 shots at the car. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Russell and Williams was struck more than 20 times in less than 8 seconds. The prosecutor said that of the 137 shots, the only ones that were not legally justified were the final 15, which were allegedly fired by Brelo. The firing had stopped when Russell’s vehicle became trapped between two police cars. Prosecutors said that the final 15 shots were unlawful because they had no chance of escaping and they no longer presented a threat to anyone’s safety.

Brelo told investigators that he thought he and his partner were in danger, and he believed the couple in the car were shooting. Brelo told investigators, “I’ve never been so afraid in my life. I thought my partner and I would be shot and that we were going to be killed.” Brelo’s defense argued that he and other officers believed the suspects were armed and that their lives were in danger, but also that prosecutors can not be certain that Brelo’s final 15 shots were the fatal ones. Brelo could have faced three to 11 years in prison on each voluntary manslaughter count had he been convicted. He was indicted in May 2014 and five other officers face charges of dereliction of duty in the chase and shooting.

Wow! Check out the photos of Michael Brelo, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in the gallery and the video below!

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