Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots
November 29, 2012: thirteen officers shot and killed 43-year-old driver Timothy Russell and his 30-year-old passenger, Malissa Williams, after they led police on a 22 minute chase. It started when a second district officer said a gunshot was fired from their car as they drove passed police headquarters downtown. The thirteen officers fired 137 shots, striking Russell 23 times and Williams 24 times. No gun was found in the suspect’s vehicle.
60 days later…
January 29, 2013: Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Safety Director Martin Flask, and Chief Michael McGrath reported that at least 63 Cleveland Police cars were involved in the pursuit or played some role in the chase that ended with police firing 137 shots.
192 days later
August 9, 2013: Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath announced that 75 officers faced discipline for their involvement in the 60-car high speed pursuit last Nov. 29 that began downtown and ended in East Cleveland. The internal charges range from engaging in a chase without permission to providing false information on duty reports. Nineteen of them also will have disciplinary hearings that could result in temporary suspensions. None will be terminated.
May 30, 2014: a grand jury indicted six police officers involved in the November 2012 car chase. The grand jury indicted a patrol officer on two charges of manslaughter and five supervisors on charges of dereliction of duty for failing to control the chase. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said, based on the law, he didn't seek charges against the other 12 officers who fired shots. Patrol officer Michael Brelo, indicted on manslaughter charges, fired at least 15 shots, including fatal shots, while standing on the hood of the car after the vehicle was trapped by police cruisers and other officers had stopped firing. "The driver was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over," McGinty said.
Officers return to work
June 12, 2014: the city of Cleveland announced that former Sgt. Michael Donegan would return July 11 as a patrol officer and would receive back pay since his termination in June 2013. He would return to the rank of sergeant. Officials said Donegan had "disengaged himself" from the chase even though he recognized the enormous scope of the situation. Two other supervisors -- Paul Wilson and Ulrich Zouhar – demoted for violating various protocols, would also return in July to their previous ranks as a result of arbitration.
US Department of Justice
June 17, 2014: the Department of Justice opened a wide-ranging civil rights investigation into the Cleveland case that could lead to years of court oversight and mandated controls on the use of force. July 11, 2014: Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell refused to place a gag order on Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty in the case of an indicted Cleveland police officer Patrolman Michael Brelo who is accused of shooting unarmed suspects Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. O'Donnell said that Brelo's attempt at the gag order "falls short of demonstrating a substantial probability that his right to a fair trial will be prejudiced by McGinty's public statements.'' Brelo was accused of two counts of voluntary manslaughter and has pled not guilty to the charges.
July 16, 2014: U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster announced that Cleveland had settled a federal lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money with the families of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The settlement was dependent upon a judge's approval in Cuyahoga County Probate Court, where the estates were set up to oversee any awards from the lawsuit. A probate judge would decide whether the settlement is fair and just. Nothing had been filed on it Wednesday. "The court held a settlement conference with clients and counsel on July 14,'' Polster wrote. "As a result of negotiations, the above captioned case has settled, subject to Probate Court approval.'' November 18, 2014: without any major filings or motions from either side, the city of Cleveland settled a wrongful death suit with the families of Timothy Russell and Marissa Williams for $3 million. Police killed Russell and Williams at the end of a car chase that most likely started when a cop mistook the backfire of a car for a gunshot.
Reverse discrimination claim
November 28, 2014: nine non-African American Cleveland police officers accused the police department of racial discrimination in the aftermath of the deadly November 29, 2012 chase in a federal lawsuit. The officers—eight white officers and one Hispanic—claimed the department has a history of treating non-black officers who shoot black residents "more harshly" than black officers involved in shootings, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio. (see December 8, 2015) March 17, 2015: Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell denied a request by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty’s office to dismiss one of the attorneys representing Michael Brelo, the Cleveland police officer charged with the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. McGinty had argued that it was a conflict of interest for attorney Patrick D'Angelo to represent Brelo since the attorney also represented the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, the union of rank-and-file officers. O'Donnell wrote in his decision that the situation "does not demonstrate an actual conflict of interest," and that Brelo's right to an attorney of his choice outweighs any risk of a conflict. March 23, 2015: attorneys for the Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo charged in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams filed a motion asking to waive a jury trial. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell would consider the motion at a hearing Jury selection was scheduled to begin April 2. March 26, 2015: Brelo would not have his case heard by a jury. Judge John P. O'Donnell would decide the case. Prosecutors had filed a motion opposing the move, arguing that dismissing a jury in this case would be an "injustice" to the communities of Cleveland and East Cleveland. The motion pointed out that the police officers involved in the shooting were all white, but the victims were black. "It is only fair to the community that African-Americans have the chance to be a part of the jury in this case," the statement said. O'Donnell rejected that argument, writing, "I have no basis in law to decline to allow Brelo to waive a jury."
Judge John P. O’Donnell
March 30, 2015: Judge John P. O'Donnell with the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court denied several requests by the attorneys of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo to have his case dismissed. Brelo's attorneys asked to have the case dismissed based on Garrity rights, which prevent a public official from making incriminating statements against themselves during investigations carried by their employers. O’Donnal also denied a motion to have the case dismissed based on qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a defense available to state and federal officials -- including police officers -- that asks whether the defendant knew whether they were breaking an established law at the time of the incident. April 9, 2015: on the third day of testimony, Cleveland police officer Michael Demchak refused to testify. Prosecutors had got through just a couple basic questions about the identity and work history of Demchak before he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the witness stand. According to a report from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Demchak was one of the 13 officers that fired their guns on the night of November 2012, when the two unarmed suspects were killed. Investigators had concluded Demchak fired his gun four times. April 27, 2015: Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell declined to acquit Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo and bring an end to his voluntary manslaughter trial before hearing any defense witnesses. O'Donnell, ruling on a defense request for the acquittal, ruled that the prosecution has presented enough evidence in the trial to warrant hearing the other side's case. In his ruling, O'Donnell wrote, "taking the evidence in a light most favorable to the state, at least 34 of Brelo's 49 shots were reasonable to deal with a perceived threat. If he is eventually found guilty of voluntary manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt in the face of his affirmative defense that all of his shots were legally justified it will mean only that he was not justified in taking one or more of those last 15 shots to confront the perceived threat."
May 23, 2015: Judge John P. O'Donnell acquitted Michael Brelo. O’Donnell stated, ““The state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Michael Brelo, knowingly caused the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.” (article) (see May 26) May 26, 2015: dozens of people marched through the streets of downtown Cleveland demanding changes to the city's criminal justice system, With chants of "We want justice, we want it now," and "We can't wait," the marchers said they were tired of waiting for authorities to make changes on their own. They delivered letters to prosecutors and the mayor listing their demands. May 27, 2015: authorities said that Cleveland police Officer Michael Brelo allegedly engaged in a fight with his twin brother during a night of drinking. Michael Brelo and his brother, Mark, faced assault charges. The fight between the twins occurred at Michael Brelo's home after 4 a.m. on May 27, according to police in Bay Village, Ohio. May 29, 2015: while acknowledging that he cannot appeal an acquittal, prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty of Cuyahoga County said that Judge John O’Donnell made serious errors before finding officer Michael Brelo not guilty in the deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, and he wants an appeals court to order the judge to correct the record. McGinty said that Judge O’Donnell’s reasoning in the voluntary-manslaughter trial of Officer Michael Brelo could set a legal precedent that would “endanger the public,” and that that Officer Brelo’s acquittal was based on the judge’s mistaken analysis of laws concerning police use of deadly force and on homicide involving more than one person who fired shots. He said the judge had also considered the wrong lesser charge — felonious assault — when he should have considered attempted voluntary manslaughter or aggravated assault. “As it stands, the trial court’s verdict will endanger the public, allow for one of multiple actors to escape culpability and lead to more unnecessary deaths by police-created crossfire situations,” Mr. McGinty said in his filing with the appeals court. “This court must return the case with the corrections of law to the trial court with instructions to deliberate and reach a verdict with the correct application of the law and correct determination of lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter — attempted voluntary manslaughter or aggravated assault,” he said. June 5, 2015: East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said the city decided not pursue charges against the 12 officers involved in the 137 shot police chase. "After further conversations with prosecutors, the prosecutors involved did say to me that it's unlikely that those charges will be filed based on the evidence available," Norton said” ...The reality is that we really were interested in bringing charges against those 12, because I really want to know was this within the bounds of the law or outside the bounds of the law? That's really my concern," Norton had previously stated the city was considering filing negligent homicide charges against the 12 police officers. (see June 7) June 7, 2015: Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was charged with assaulting his brother .
June 22, 2015: U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko gave the green light to a lawsuit filed against the city of Cleveland by police Sgt. Johnny Hamm who claimed he was wrongfully suspended for Facebook posts he made about the 2012 police chase and fatal shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Boyko wrote that Hamm had a "plausible claim for deprivation" of his right to due process, if what Hamm alleges is true. Boyko wrote that the complaint over the Facebook posts was lodged by police Chief Calvin Williams and decided at a disciplinary hearing that was also presided over by the chief. "These allegations raise the claim, beyond the speculative level, that Plaintiff was denied a meaningful hearing due to the bias and/or conflict of interest of the supervisory official, Chief of Police, Calvin D. Williams," Boyko wrote.
June 30, 2015: Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty announced that the misdemeanor trial for five white Cleveland police supervisors accused of failing to control a high-speed car chase that led to two unarmed black people being killed in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire would be held in a predominantly black suburb, not in county court. McGinty said officials in East Cleveland, where the November 2012 car chase ended and the shooting occurred, contacted his office about trying the case in that suburban city after a judge acquitted a white Cleveland patrolman last month on felony manslaughter charges for his role in the shooting deaths of driver Timothy Russell and passenger Malissa Williams. McGinty said the same misdemeanor charges against the supervisors will be filed in East Cleveland and county prosecutors will help try the case, which had been set for trial in county court on July 27. July 9, 2015: Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty offered to drop charges against the five white police supervisors accused of failing to stop the 137 shot car chase . Both attorneys said their clients rejected the deal and were prepared to go to trial.
Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots
July 24, 2015: Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell dismissed dereliction-of-duty charges against five Cleveland police supervisors involved. O'Donnell's ruling will likely result in the supervisors being tried in East Cleveland Municipal Court, where identical charges were filed on July 2. "The fact that duplicative charges are pending in East Cleveland amounts to good cause to dismiss the indictment here," O'Donnell wrote, but officials are waiting for a decision from the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals regarding whether the suburban court has jurisdiction in the case. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty wants the trial in East Cleveland and asked O'Donnell to dismiss the Common Pleas Court charges. Prosecutors have argued that since the supervisors face misdemeanor charges, they should be tried in municipal court, where misdemeanor cases are generally heard.
“No pay for killer cops!”
November 17, 2015: “No pay for killer cops!” was what the family members of Malissa Williams were chanting earlier in front of Cleveland’s city hall in response to news that Michael Brelo would soon be back policing the streets. “Everybody knows this is murder,” said Alfredo Williams, Malissa’s brother said at a press conference. “I have never heard of anything like this in my life. He knows he did wrong.”
December 8, 2015: U.S. District Judge James Gwin rejected a reverse-discrimination lawsuit in which eight white Cleveland police officers and one Hispanic officer claimed the city placed them on longer stints of restricted duty than their black counterparts. Gwin concluded that the officers produced "no evidence" to support their claims. He wrote that what the group described as evidence were just "short excerpts from dated testimony in unrelated cases that consist of individuals giving general discussion about race" and the city. Records show that the length of restricted duty more depends on the facts of a case than the color of an officer's skin.
January 25, 2016: Cleveland officials said they were firing six police officers involved in the 137-shot barrage. Those officers included Michael Brelo, a patrolman acquitted of manslaughter charges in May for having fired the last 15 shots of the barrage in East Cleveland. Six more officers who fired during the barrage faced suspensions ranging from 21 to 30 days, said Public Safety Director Michael McGrath, the former police chief. A total of 13 officers had been notified they faced administrative discipline, and one of them has retired, McGrath said. (see October 23, 2017)
August 8, 2017: the city of Cleveland announced that it would pay Jessica Barnes, Jasmine Bruce, Dominique Knox, Eric Maxwell, and Tanis Quach, and National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer Jordan Workman $50,000 each for being falsely arrested in May 2015 while they demonstrated against the acquittal of Michael Brelo. The verdict had prompted several protests in and around downtown Cleveland. The six were wrongfully arrested, jailed, and prosecuted for several months, before the charges were finally dismissed. According to the lawsuit, Cleveland Police intentionally kept the protesters in jail to prevent them from returning to the streets to protest. While locked up for 36 hours, they were subjected to bed bugs, contaminated drinking water, and mold.
October 23, 2017: local Cleveland media reported that police officers Michael Farley, Erin O'Donnell, Christopher Ereg, Wilfredo Diaz and Brian Sabolik who had been fired after the 137 shot police chase were reinstated earlier this month after an arbitrator's ruling this summer. The sixth officer, Michael Brelo — the arbitrator ruled that he should remain fired. On November 7, 2017: Cleveland settled a federal lawsuit filed by Lt. Johnny Hamm who said the city and police Chief Calvin Williams retaliated against him for a series of Facebook posts about the 22-mile police chase that left two people dead. The notice that Hamm reach a settlement with the city was filed in front of U.S. District Christopher Boyko. The city refused to discuss the terms of the settlement
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