"The result was a protracted high-speed chase that put the public and officers in danger, the death of two unarmed people — one a totally innocent passenger — and a circular firing squad that nearly killed several of their own.”
Cleveland, Ohio - Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were driving near downtown Cleveland on November 29, 2012, when Russell’s car backfired. Police in the area apparently mistook the sound for gunfire and gave chase.
What took place next was a stunning car chase that involved over 60 police cruisers and lasted almost a half hour.
It’s unclear exactly why Russell didn’t pull over, but what is clear is that when the chase ended, Russell and Williams were killed in a hail of gunfire after 13 officers unloaded 137 rounds into the vehicle in an elementary school parking lot.
Russell, the driver, was shot 23 times. Williams was shot 24 times while sitting in the front passenger seat. Neither one of the victims were armed, which was confirmed after no weapons were found in the bullet riddled vehicle.
Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter, he was released on a $10,000 dollar bond. Brelo is accused of firing 49 of the 137 shots. Randolph Daley, Michael Donegan, Patricia Coleman, Jason Edens and Paul Wilson were all charged with misdemeanor dereliction of duty.
Brelo unloaded 49 shots, the last 15 as he stood on the hood of Russell's car firing through the windshield well after the chase was over and the other officers on the scene had stopped firing. The actions of Brelo that day are nothing short of sociopathic.
Of course police union officials have attempted to denigrate the murder victims by calling them criminals and labeling the incident as a “good shoot.”
While the majority of the officers involved only got a slap on the wrist, it’s heartening to see that Bralo is being held accountable for his actions.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty put things into perspective when he stated:
“Officers decided to ignore their department’s rules on November 29, 2012. The result was a protracted high-speed chase that put the public and officers in danger, the death of two unarmed people — one a totally innocent passenger — and a circular firing squad that nearly killed several of their own.”
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The City of Cleveland and its taxpayers will now be paying out a settlement of $3 million dollars to the victims of this violent police killing.
Police conduct during the chase sparked a federal investigation of the Cleveland police, by the Department of Justice, and also helped to secure the settlement for the victim’s families.
Attorneys for the families released a statement on Monday:
“The families eagerly await the results of the ongoing civil rights investigation of the Cleveland Police by the United States Department of Justice. They are hopeful that meaningful reforms regarding use of force and officer accountability will follow.”
The police conduct was so egregious that a report by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office found that officers had the car partially surrounded and that officers were actually firing in the direction of each other as they let the bullets fly that day.
It baffles the mind that officers would be so hopped up on fear and adrenaline that not only would they let 137 rounds fly at unarmed civilians, but that they would actually be cross firing at one another.
Obviously all training went out the window and these cops were running on authoritarian autopilot. A very dangerous situation is created for everyone when law enforcement disregards their protocols and training, and they begin to simply run off of emotion as is all too often the case.
The joint statement released by attorneys representing the families went on to say:
“This shooting is one of the worst examples of police misconduct in American history. This settlement sends the clearest signal yet that real reform must be achieved inside the Cleveland Police Department.”
Amazingly enough, this incident is not isolated. In May of this year, in South Florida, 23 overzealous police officers fired 377 bullets at two men with 0 Guns, killing both men and actually wounding two of their own in the shenanigans.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.