Officer Michael Brelo, who shot repeatedly at an unarmed black couple in 2012, some of the time while standing on the hood of their car, was acquitted of charges of manslaughter today by an Ohio judge.
Officer Brelo was one of the police officers who shot at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams during a high-speed car chase through Cleveland in 2012. Over 100 officers pursued the car for 22 miles. Once the car had come to a stop, police officers fired 137 rounds at the car; 49 came from Officer Brelo.
While other officers stopped shooting after the car had stopped, Officer Brelo climbed on the hood of Russell's car and fired at least 15 shots into the car. When arrested back in 2012, Officer Brelo told police that he believed the couple had a gun, and that he had heard gunshots coming from them. Both of those beliefs turned out to be false.
Judge John P. O'Donnell ruled that Officer Brelo's use of deadly force was "constitutionally reasonable" considering his fear and assessment of the situation. From the New York Times:
The shooting was “reasonable despite knowing now that there was no gun in the car, and he was mistaken about the gunshots,” Judge O’Donnell said.
“I reject the claim that 12 seconds after the shooting began, it was patently clear from the perspective of a reasonable police officer that the threat had been stopped,” Judge O’Donnell said, contrasting the prosecutors’ claims that the justifiable action ended when Officer Brelo climbed onto the hood.
Cleveland police chief says Officer Brelo will remain on unpaid suspension, according to CNN.
UPDATE 10:23 p.m.:
Cleveland police, some dressed in riot gear, are apparently arresting protestors. The New York Times says officers have made "multiple arrests," though the official number is unknown. Additionally, it was announced earlier on Saturday that the Department of Justice will review the case.