The city of Cleveland is facing its ups and downs today, as the Michael Brelo verdict is announced and the Ohio Students Association stages a rally to mark six months of Tamir Rice’s death. Michael Brelo was acquitted on two charges of manslaughter, Tamir Rice, 12, was shot by police officer Timothy Loehmann.
While people were upset with Brelo’s acquittal, many commentators are wondering whether Cleveland will be gripped by a fervor, much like the turmoil in Ferguson and Baltimore as Brelo shot a Black couple while Tamir Rice was Black. In the aftermath of Brelo’s trial, upset protestors were shown demonstrating outside the Justice Center.
Michael Brelo’s Case
Back in 2012, the Cleveland police gave chase to a 1979 Chevy Malibu being driven by Timothy Russell. The car backfired while crossing two policemen standing across from the police headquarters at Justice Center. The policemen mistook it for a gunshot and 62 police cars pursued the car for for 22-minutes. The car chase ended at a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland, where 13 officers fired 137 shots at the car. Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams were both shot multiple times. The shooting finally stopped when the car became sandwiched between two police vehicles.
Prosecutors argue that it was then, that Brelo lost control. He got on the hood of the police car, jumped on top of the victims’ car and fired at least 15 shots through the windshield, at close range. He said that he was afraid that the couple presented a threat to him and his partner and he was trying to eliminate it. He believed that the couple were carrying guns, so even after they had riddled the car with bullets and made sure that it could not move, he was afraid.
The couple was found to be unarmed and the prosecutors were arguing that Brelo was responsible for unlawfully shooting two people and of firing the fatal shot. The defense argued that there was no way to identify his shot as the fatal one and the officers had reasonable belief that their lives were in danger.
The 31-year-old, was facing two charges of voluntary manslaughter and would have been sentenced to anywhere between three to 11 years for each count until Judge John P.O’Donnell said otherwise. Brelo’s case was being heard at the Court of Common Please, Cuyahoga County since his May 2014 indictment. The month-long trial ended with O’Donell saying that Brelo’s use of force was a constitutionally reasonable response in the face of his own death and acquitted him on both charges. He was also found not guilty of felonious assault as he was legally justified.
Tamir Rice’s Death
A called called 911 to report that someone was pointing a pistol at people in the Cudell Recreation Center. The caller stated that the person was probably a juvenile and the gun might be fake. The caller could not identify the make of the weapon as the orange marking to identify toy guns was not there.
The dispatch officer did not convey the entire message to the responding police officers, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. They were just told about a person pointing a gun and reacted accordingly. When they arrived at the park, they approached Rice, but he reached for in his waistband, for what the officers thought was his gun, and they fired. Two shots were fired, but it was Loehmann’s shot to Rice’s torso which proved fatal. The gun turned out to be a toy Airsoft fun.
The Tamir Rice protest on the day of Michael Brelo’s trial result, was very trying for the city of Cleveland. The Tamir Rice protests called #Occupy4Tamir were peacefully carried out at Impett Park and authorities expect the investigations to end soon.
By Anugya Chitransh
CNN: Cleveland officer not guilty in killing unarmed pair
FOX 8: Live blog: Judge finds Officer Michael Brelo not guilty of all counts in deadly chase, shooting
Cleveland.com: Michael Brelo verdict: Get live updates and streaming video
Photo of Student’s Protesting Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License