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Police officer who shot 49 bullets into car where two died found not guilty

The acquittal sparked protests in Cleveland.

The bullet-ridden windshield of the car.
The bullet-ridden windshield of the car.
Image: Apexchange

POLICE IN RIOT gear made numerous arrests overnight as protesters took to the streets after a Cleveland judge found a city police officer not guilty in the deaths of two unarmed black suspects killed in a barrage of police gunfire.

Michael Brelo, 31, faces administrative charges while remaining suspended without pay after his acquittal Saturday on two counts of voluntary manslaughter, but he no longer faces the prospect of prison. The anxious city now awaits a decision on criminal charges against a white officer in the fatal shooting of a black 12-year-old boy with a pellet gun.

Brelo and 12 other officers fired 137 shots at a car with Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams inside it on 29 November, 2012. The shooting occurred at the end of a 22-mile-long chase involving more than 100 Cleveland police officers and 60 cruisers after Russell’s Chevy Malibu backfired while speeding by police headquarters.

Michael Brelo, Patrick DAngelo Michael Brelo hugs his attorney, Patrick D’Angelo, after the verdict in his trial. Source: Apexchange

During the chase, an officer reported that he thought he’d seen Williams with a gun. At the end, police mistook police gunfire for shots from Russell’s car.

Brelo fired 49 of those shots that night, but it was the final 15 fired into the windshield while he stood on the hood of Russell’s car that led his indictment and a four-week trial.

He faced up to 22 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

The shooting helped prompt an investigation by the US Department of Justice that concluded Cleveland police had engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive use of force and violations of people’s civil rights.

Angry but mostly orderly protests followed Saturday’s verdict. More than a dozen protesters were arrested last night for failing to disperse from an alley in the city’s Warehouse District on downtown’s west side, deputy police chief Wayne Drummond said. Several other people were arrested elsewhere downtown.

Read: Baby (1) dies after being shot in the face by toddler (3)

Read: Police in Cleveland release CCTV footage of officer shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice

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Associated Press

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