Cleveland fires six police officers who shot 137 bullets at unarmed black couple

The officers behind the 22-mile car chase and who killed two people have been dismissed but no criminal charges have been brought forward

 

Six Cleveland police offers who were involved in one of the most notorious cases of police violence in the country have been fired but are yet to face criminal charges. 

Cleveland Police Union President Steve Loomis has vowed on Tuesday that the firing is “politics” and the six officers will get their jobs back.

The five men and one woman were part of a group of 13 police officers who shot a total of 137 bullets at an unarmed black couple following a 22-mile car chase. 

The police chased and killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in November 2012. 

Officer Michael Brelo shot 47 times, including 15 times at close range when he climbed onto the hood of the Chevy Malibu carrying the couple.

As of yet no criminal charges have been brought forward against any of the police officers involved.

Mr Brelo, 31, a white police officer, was acquitted in May last year of two counts of involuntary manslaughter. His acquittal sparked a wave of protests in the town.

Representative Marcia Fudge, a Cleveland Democrat, called the ruling last year “a stunning setback.“

“The verdict is another chilling reminder of a broken relationship between the Cleveland Police Department and the community it serves,” she said. “Today we have been told — yet again — our lives have no value.”

Mr Brelo had been suspended without pay since his indictment in the chase.

Days after being acquitted, Mr Belo was charged with assaulting his twin brother inside his Bay Village home, according to Cleveland.com.

Another five officers involved in the chase - Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik, Erin O'Donnell, Michael Farley, and Chris Ereg - also lost their jobs. 

“We’re going to fight this, from beginning to end,” said Cleveland Police Union President Steve Loomis in a press conference on Tuesday. He spoke against statements made by Cleveland Public Safety Director Michael McGrath, who fired the officers.

Mr Loomis said the couple who were killed drove at officer Wilfredo Diaz, and the decision to fire the six officers was just an act of “politics” in a “kangaroo court”, a situation that is echoing “around the country”.

“They placed themselves in a cross-fire situation. These folks [Ms Williams and Mr Russell] went down a one-way street and boxed themselves in. The police got out their car as they anticipated a stand off [...]"

“They weren’t anticipating someone [putting] their feet down on the gas and drive towards them in a highly […] excited way,” he added.

“Every guy will get their job back,” said Mr Loomis.

The police shot the couple because they used their car “as a deadly weapon”, he insisted. He also accused the couple of firing a gun within the car and the reported noise the police heard and reacted to was not the car backfiring, he said.

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