Protesters took to the streets and the Department of Justice promised an investigation after a judge on Saturday acquitted a Cleveland patrolman of manslaughter in the 2012 killing of a black couple suspected of firing at police.
A Democrat congresswoman called the verdict in the case against Officer Michael Brelo a “miscarriage of justice,” but the judge in the case said he refused to “sacrifice” Brelo to the nation’s current hysteria over police use of force.
According to Fox News, Brelo jumped on the hood of a car containing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams and fired after a November, 2012, chase that started when Russell’s car backfired when it was passing the Cleveland police headquarters. Thinking someone in the car had fired a weapon, police began a pursuit that turned into a high-speed chase.
Police never determined why Russell didn’t stop at some point during the 22-mile pursuit. The chase ended only after he rammed a police car in a middle school parking lot, according to CNN.
Russell and Williams were later found to be unarmed and the pursuit violated several Cleveland police policies, CNN reported. But those factors had no bearing on the judge’s decision.
Fox News reported:
Before issuing his verdict, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell noted the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore over the deaths of black suspects but said he would not “sacrifice” Brelo to an angry public if the evidence did not merit a conviction.
“Brelo’s entire use of deadly force was a constitutionally reasonable response to a objectionably reasonably perceived threat of great bodily harm,” O’Donnell said in issuing his verdict.
“I will not sacrifice him to a public frustrated by historical mistreatment at the hands of other officers,” the ruling stated.
The Department of Justice immediately reacted to the verdict.
“We will now review the testimony and evidence presented in the state trial” to determine if “additional steps are available and appropriate,” the department said after the acquittal in a pattern of second-guessing that’s become all too familiar.
After the verdict was announced, police in riot gear confronted protesters in downtown Cleveland, with at least four demonstrators arrested, according to news reports. One of those had thrown an object through a store window, according to Fox.
Protesters also homed in on the fact that Brelo is white and Russell and Williams were black. But that has no relevance whatsoever.
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, whose district includes Cleveland, tweeted:
#BreloVerdict is a miscarriage of justice and a chilling reminder of a broken relationship between the judicial system and those it serves.
— Marcia L. Fudge (@RepMarciaFudge) May 23, 2015
Unsurprisingly, Fudge had her supporters, but there were plenty of clearer heads that replied to her statement.
@RepMarciaFudge wow that’s a bold statement given the detailed explanation provided by the Judge given the FACTS of the case.
— Lexie (@i_am_everywoman) May 23, 2015
@RepMarciaFudge you should be promoting peaceful change not inciting the city. Shame on you.
— Laura Gaertner (@ForugypsyLaura) May 23, 2015
— Phil Kalina (@pkalina) May 23, 2015
— Phil Kalina (@pkalina) May 23, 2015
Here’s O’Donnell issuing his verdict via Fox-8 News in Cleveland.
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