Tag Archives: Black & Shot

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

The tropical depression that became Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005. It’s path led it over Florida before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico, regaining strength, and moving onto the Gulf coast again.

When the storm made landfall, it had a Category 3 rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale–it brought sustained winds of 100–140 miles per hour–and stretched some 400 miles across.

And while Katrina affected a huge region, I will limit this blog entry mainly to New Orleans.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

First landfall: Florida

August 25, 2005: at 6:30 PM EDT Hurricane Katrina made its first landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane near Hallandale Beach, Florida on the Miami-Dade/Broward county line.

After landfall, instead of travelling as originally forecast, Katrina moved hard left (south/southwest) almost parallel to the coastline in densely-populated metropolitan Miami, Florida. As many as six people were killed, including three people killed by falling trees and two boaters that attempted to ride out the storm in their crafts.

August 26, 2005: Katrina was  downgraded to a tropical storm. At 5:00 AM EDT, the eye of Hurricane Katrina was located just offshore of southwestern Florida over the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles (80 km) north-northeast of Key West, Florida.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Headed toward New Orleans

August 27, 2005: Katrina reached Category 3 intensity. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced a state of emergency and a called for a voluntary evacuation.

August 28, 2005: Katrina reached Category 4 intensity with 145 mph winds. By 7:00 AM CDT  it was a Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph , gusts up to 215 mph.

In a press conference at roughly 10:00 AM CDT, Mayor Ray Nagin declared that “a mandatory evacuation order is hereby called for all of the parish of Orleans.”

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Storm surge

August 29, 2005: Katrina’s storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, submerging eighty percent of the city. 2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

August 30, 2005: Louisiana Governor Blanco ordered that all of New Orleans, including the Superdome, be evacuated due to the flooding of the city.

August 31, 2005: New Orleans’s Mayor Ray Nagin announced that the planned sandbagging of the 17th Street Canal levee breach had failed.

At the time, 85% of the city was underwater. President Bush returned early to Washington from vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Though he did not stop in Louisiana, Air Force One flies low over the Gulf Coast so that he can view the devastation in Air Force One.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

September 1, 2005: President Bush appeared on Good Morning America, and said that he understood the frustration of Katrina victims, many of whom are still waiting for food, water, and other aid.

I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday,” Bush said. “I understand the anxiety of people on the ground. … So there is frustration. But I want people to know there’s a lot of help coming.”

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Heck of a job

September 2, 2005: President George W. Bush told Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” during a tour of Hurricane Katrina damage in Alabama.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Danziger Bridge

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

September 4, 2005: in New Orleans, Sgt. Kenneth Bowen and Sgt. Robert Gisevius and Officers Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon jumped in a Budget rental truck with several other officers and raced to the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans, responding to a distress call.

As a result, police killed two civilians, 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison an wounded four other civilians.

All of the victims were African-American. None were armed or had committed any crime. Madison, a mentally disabled man, was shot in the back. (officers, see January 3, 2007)

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Media limitations

September 9, 2005: U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré and New Orleans Director of Homeland Security Terry Ebbert announced a “zero access” policy with regards to the media, in order to prevent members of the media from reporting on the recovery of dead bodies in New Orleans. CNN filed a lawsuit, then obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent government agencies from interfering with news coverage of recovery efforts.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Brown resigns

September 12, 2005: in the wake of what was widely believed to be incompetent handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by state, local and federal officials, FEMA director, Michael Brown, resigned, saying that it was “in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president.” His standing had also been damaged when the Boston Herald revealed his meager experience in disaster management before joining FEMA.

September 15, 2005, : President George W. Bush, addressing the nation from storm-ravaged New Orleans, acknowledged the government failed to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina and urged Congress to approve a massive reconstruction program.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Death toll

September 19, 2005: Louisiana’s official death toll stood at 973.

September 21, 2005: the official death toll was raised to 1,036, with 63 additional deaths recognized in Louisiana. This marked the first time since 1928 that a natural disaster in the U.S. had been officially acknowledged to have killed at least 1,000 people. State-by-state death tolls: Louisiana 799, Mississippi 218, Florida 14, Alabama 2, Georgia 2, Tennessee 1.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Police charged

January 3, 2007: seven New Orleans policemen charged in a deadly  shooting in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina turned themselves in at the city jail.  More than 200 supporters met them in a show of solidarity.

Each of the indicted men faced at least one charge of murder or attempted murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Two people died and four were wounded in the shooting.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Indictments dismissed

August 13, 2008: District Judge Raymond Bigelow dismissed the indictments against the New Orleans police officers after his finding that the prosecutors had wrongly instructed the grand jury and that testimony of three of the accused officers had been divulged to other witnesses in the case.

The US Dept of Justice and the FBI will subsequently investigate the case.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Guilty pleas

February 24, 2010: Officer Michael Lohman, who had encouraged the officers to provide false stories in the shooting incident entered a plea of guilty to obstruction of justice in federal court.

March 11, 2010: Officer Jeffrey Lehrmann pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for failing to report the cover-up.

April 7, 2010: Michael Hunter, one of the seven officers originally charged with attempted murder in 2007, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and obstruction of justice.

July 13, 2010: a federal grand jury indicted Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon, and Anthony Villavaso in connection with the shooting and subsequent cover-up.

Additionally, Arthur “Archie” Kaufman (lead investigator on the case) and Gerard Dugue (another investigator) were charged with falsifying reports and false prosecution in the conspiracy to cover-up the shooting. [Times-Picayune article]

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

More guilty verdicts

August 5, 2011: guilty verdicts were handed down for Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, Villavaso and Kaufman. [Times-Picayune article]

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Sentencing

April 4, 2012: the four officers directly involved in the shooting were sentenced in federal court to lengthy terms ranging from 38 to 65 years, while a police sergeant who was charged with investigating the shooting, and instead helped lead the efforts to hide and distort what happened, was sentenced to six years.

Three police officers who pleaded guilty and later testified at the trial were involved in the shooting on the bridge and received sentences ranging from five to eight years.

Two others, a detective and a police lieutenant who helped orchestrate the cover-up, were sentenced to three and four years. [FBI report]

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

Vacated convictions

September 17, 2013, following a year-long probe into the defendants’ claims, U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt vacated the convictions of Bowen, Faulcon, Gisevius, Villavaso and Kaufman, and ordered a new trial.

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

2015

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

New guilty pleas

April 20, 2016, the five officers pleaded guilty to charges of deprivation of rights under color of law, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In return, they were sentenced to significantly reduced sentences of three to 12 years in prison, with credit for time served.

November 4, 2016, Gerard Dugue pleaded guilty in federal court to “a misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact to deprivation of rights under the color of law.”

He was sentenced to one year of probation, making him the only NOPD officer who plead guilty in the case but was not sent to prison.

December 19, 2016:  New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu apologized and announced a settlement agreement. [NOLA dot com article]

The settlement included payments for the families of victims killed or injured in the shooting of unarmed civilians; for the beating death of Raymond Robair, 48, who was killed before the storm; and for the fatal shooting of Henry Glover, who was killed by a police officer standing guard outside an Algiers shopping center.”

2005 Hurricane Katrina New Orleans
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Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Alton B Stirling
June 14, 1979 – July 5, 2016

Black and shot

July 5, 2016: in Baton Rouge  officers (both white), Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II responded to a report that a black man in a red shirt selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart had threatened the caller with a gun.

A cellphone video showed an officer pushing Alton B. Sterling (black) onto the hood of the car and tackling him to the ground. Sterling was pinned to the ground by both officers, one kneeling on his chest and the other on his thigh, both attempting to control his arms.

Saying that Sterling had a gun and was going for it, they shot him.

That same night, more than 100 demonstrators shouted “no justice, no peace”, set off fireworks, and blocked an intersection in protest.

An autopsy would indicate that Sterling had died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Family reaction

July 6, 2016: community leaders and the family of Alton Sterling held a news conference at Baton Rouge City Hall

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s eldest son, became very emotional when talking about her Stirling. The 15-year-old boy cried openly while standing by his mother’s side as she addressed the public.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced  that the Department of Justice would launch an investigation.

Mike McClanahan, the leader of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP called for East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden to fire Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie and for Holden to resign.

Black Lives Matter held a candlelight vigil in Baton Rouge, with chants of “We love Baton Rouge” and, called for justice.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Philando Castile

Also July 6, 2016: Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black American, was shot and killed by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, a suburb of Saint Paul.

Castile was in a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter when he was pulled over by Yanez and another officer.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Police reaction

The Baton Rouge Police Department, Mayor Kip Holden and other officials held a news conference to release new details in the officer-involved shooting death. 

Police identified the officers involved in the shooting and added that Salamoni has been with the force four years, while Lake had been with the department for three.

BRPD said both officers worked in the Uniform Patrol Division. Officials also stated both officers were placed on paid leave immediately after the shooting.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Dallas shootings

July 7, a protest was held in Dallas, Texas, relating to the shootings of Sterling and Castile.

At the end of the peaceful protest, Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire  killing five police officers and wounding eleven others including two civilians.  A robot- bomb killed Johnson.

The United States Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation of the Stirling death.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

United Nations

July 8,  2016: the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued a statement strongly condemning Sterling and Castile’s killings.

Human rights expert Ricardo A. Sunga III, the Chair of the United Nations panel, stated that the killings demonstrate “a high level of structural and institutional racism”. Adding that “The United States is far from recognizing the same rights for all its citizens. Existing measures to address racist crimes motivated by prejudice are insufficient and have failed to stop the killings.” [RT article]

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Continued protests

July 9, a protest in Baton Rouge turned violent, with one police officer having several teeth knocked out and eight firearms (including three rifles, three shotguns, and two pistols) being confiscated from New Black Panther Party members.

Police arrested 102 people. [NOLA article]

On July 10, between 30 and 40 people were also arrested including African-American Muslim activist Blair Imani.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Obama calls

July 11, 2016: President Obama placed a telephone call to the Sterling family to offer his and the First Lady’s condolences on behalf of the American people for the death of their loved one. 

People gathered across Baton Rouge to participate in rallies, vigils and protests since Sterling’s death. A memorial has been growing in honor of Sterling outside the convenience store where the shooting happened.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Call for calm

On July 13, local organizing groups and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Louisiana branch, filed a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department for violating the First Amendment rights of demonstrators. They claim they were protesting peacefully against Sterling’s death.

July 13, 2016: Cameron Sterling, Alton’s oldest son,  held a press conference at the Triple S Food Mart. He pleaded for protesters to remain peaceful. 

Later that same day, President Obama held a meeting in Washington, D.C. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana State Police, Col. Mike Edmonson attended. The event was aimed at bridging the divide between police and the community. They also discussed police training and tactics. 

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

July 15 funeral

The funeral held the F.G. Clark Center on Southern University’s campus. 

Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson were among the many speakers at the service. 

“We must stop all the killing all the time. No one has the right to kill anyone,” said Rev. Jackson. “For those of you who are listening here and around the world, our strongest violence is not guns and violence. It’s the rightness of our cause.”

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Law officers killed

July 17, 2016: Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three died and three were hospitalized, one critically; of the officers who died, two were members of the Baton Rouge Police Department, while the third worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.

A SWAT officer killed Long during a shootout.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

No Charges

April 28, 2017, Mayor-President Sharron Weston Broome released a statement that a decision regarding possible federal charges was expected. She noted that no timeline had been released.

May 2, 2017:  the federal government announced that, officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, the two white police officers in the fatal shooting on the July 5, 2016 of Alton B. Sterling, a black man in Baton Rouge, La would not be charged. The incident caused widespread unrest. State charges were still pending.

June 27, 2017: Sterling’s children sued Baton Rouge. 

The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the fatal shooting was indicative of racist conduct and excessive force by Baton Rouge police.

March 27, 2018:  Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that police officers would not be prosecuted by the state authorities.

 Landry’s statements were similar to the Justice Department’s May 2, 2017 findings and defended the conduct of the officers, saying, for example, that their efforts to gain control of Sterling’s hands were “well-founded and reasonable under the circumstances and under Louisiana law.” Landry also said the officers were justified in their concern about whether Mr. Sterling was armed.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Eventual “consequences”

March 30, 2018: Chief Murphy Paul of the Baton Rouge Police Department announced that Blane Salamoni, who fatally shot Alton B. Sterling was fired. Paul also announced a three-day suspension of Officer Howie Lake II, also involved in the episode. The disciplinary actions were the first serious consequences for the officers after both state and federal officials declined to bring criminal charges against them.

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling

Unrest in Baton Rouge

Inspired by a photo by Jonathan Bachman, Tracy K Smith, the US Poet Laureate,  wrote Unrest in Baton Rouge after, September 2017

“Unrest in Baton Rouge”

Our bodies run with ink dark blood. Or else

It pools in the pavement’s seams.

Is it strange to say love is a language

Few practice, but all, or near all speak?

Even the men in black armor, the ones

Jangling handcuffs and keys, what else

Are they so buffered against, if not love’s blade

Sizing up the heart’s familiar meat?

We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat.

Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean.

Love: naked almost in the everlasting street,

Skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze

Baton Rouge Alton CD Man Stirling
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Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Indictments

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots
Malissa Williams gunshot diagram

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Financial settlements

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

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.”

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Judge John P. O’Donnell

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots
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.”

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Brelo acquitted

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

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.

June 7, 2015: Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was charged with assaulting his brother.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots
Federal lawsuit

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Misdemeanor trial

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

Charges dismissed

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 wanted 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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

No pay for killer cops!


Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots


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.”

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Reverse-discrimination lawsuit

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Firings

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)

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Payments

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.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

2017

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

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Extortion? 

March 15, 2018: Cleveland’s Fox 8 reported that defense attorneys for the five Cleveland police supervisors charged in connection with the fatal shootings of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams said that East Cleveland offered to drop their charges if they each paid $5,000.

                The supervisors would still go on trial on dereliction of duty charges, but Law Director Willa Hemmons made the offer to drop the charges if they paid the money. Defense lawyer Henry Hilow told FOX 8 the offer was made to him twice.

                “And there’s no basis for it in law, no basis for a practicing attorney. In fact, to a lay person, this would be extortion,” he told the station.

                East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King told the station he was aware of it, but waited to comment until the law director was with him.

                A letter from Hemmons says she intended to prosecute, but the city also looked to “mitigate charges.”

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots

Request for trial date

A week later, on  March 22 the City of East Cleveland’s prosecutor’s office filed a motion asking Judge William Dawson to set a trial date in the  case.

Trial  Tries to Begin

Not guilty plea

April 12, 2018: Supervisors Michael Donegan, 44, of Cleveland; Patricia Coleman, 50, of Brooklyn; Jason Edens, 44, of Avon; Paul Wilson, 51, of Cleveland; and Randolph Dailey, 46, of North Ridgeville pleaded not guilty when they appeared at arraignments in East Cleveland Municipal Court. (Cleveland dot com article)

Dismissal denied

October 1, 2018: East Cleveland Judge William L. Dawson denied a request by five Cleveland police supervisors to dismiss misdemeanor charges related to the 2012 chase that ended in a deadly shooting.

Defense attorneys for the five supervisors had argued during a July 9 hearing that dereliction-of-duty charges should be dismissed due to a series of procedural issues. They contended the supervisors’ right to speedy trials had been violated; more than five-and-a-half years had passed since the Nov. 29, 2012 chase that ended in the deaths of the unarmed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

Judge Dawson noted in a Sept. 20 ruling that statutory requirements for speedy trials do not apply because the case was previously appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled last year the trial could be held in East Cleveland.

Timothy Russell Malissa Williams 137 Shots
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