Cleveland police Officer Michael Brelo was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault in the 2012 deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a car chase. The officer shot the unarmed Black occupants 15 times — after the car had already been riddled with bullets. CNN reports that the judge ruled on Saturday afternoon that since Brelo believed he was in danger, he was not guilty. Russell and Williams were driving in Cleveland in November of 2012, when their car backfired, which officers nearby thought were gunshots. After a 22-mile high speed chase, Brelo and 12 other officers fired more than 100 times in eight seconds at the car. According to the prosecution, the pair could not have been a threat at that point, but Brelo exited his car, got on top of Williams' car and "fired at least 15 shots ... downward through the windshield into the victims at close range," CNN reports Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGlinty said.
Reaction has been swift.
In all too familiar images, protesters also blocked lanes of the Shoreway — a freeway in Cleveland — shortly after the verdict.