Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Michael Brelo and Five Other Officers Fired For 2012 Police Chase Are Trying to Get Their Jobs Back

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 11:15 AM

click to enlarge Michael Brelo.
  • Michael Brelo.
Update: Michael Brelo and five other officers who were fired by the city for their roles in the 2012 police chase that ended with police firing 137 bullets at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams are trying to get their jobs back.

Their dismissals came nearly three years after the incident. Appeals were filed back in January, the day they were fired.

Brelo was the lone officer to be indicted by a grand jury with a felony. He was later acquitted by a judge. The other five fired officers are Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik, Michael Farley, Christopher Ereg and Erin O'Donnell. All six are currently in arbitration hearings with Cleveland, city officials told Cleveland.com.

A little historical perspective here, via that account, and a look forward:

Union president Steve Loomis previously called the firings "absolutely politically motivated and insane."

In 2013, the city handed down discipline to a dozen supervisors and 74 officers involved in the chase.

The supervisors that were fired had their jobs reinstated through the arbitration process. Other disciplinary actions against supervisors were lessened or completely rescinded.

Five supervisors still face misdemeanor criminal charges in connection with the case. 


(Original story 1/26/16): Michael Brelo and five other Cleveland police officers have been fired for their roles in the Nov. 29, 2012 police chase and shooting that resulted in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Six other officers will face suspensions ranging from 21-30 days.

Safety Director Michael McGrath (who was police chief at the time of the shooting) announced the disciplinary charges in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He said he hoped the announcement would "bring closure" to the incident, at least on the city's end.

Sgt. James Chura outlined the administrative review of both the pursuit itself and the shooting.

"Why did it take so long?" Chura asked. "This incident was unprecedented. It took an equally unprecedented investigation...to reach an adequate appraisal."

The cascade of 137 shots was dramatized in a video on a model created by the County Prosecutor's office.

In a nine-minute narrative, the video explicated the actions of all 13 officers who discharged their weapons in the Heritage Middle School lot in East Cleveland. During the course of a 10.1 second window that night, 122 of the 137 shots were fired.

Criminal proceedings delayed the division's internal review. 

After a grand jury voted to indict officer Michael Brelo, and after he was subsequently acquitted in May, 2015, the police department began their administrative process to investigate the 13 officers.

The Critical Incident Review Committee that had examined the pursuit was re-convened to examine the shooting. The committee completed their review in September, 2015 and presented their findings to Chief Calvin Williams in a report. Williams concurred with their findings and recommended charges to Safety Director McGrath. (Any disciplinary action more severe than a 10-day suspension must be approved by the Safety Director).

McGrath agreed to charge all 13 officers, though dismissed a charge or two from many of the offending officers. Brelo, for instance, was charged on six counts (violating general police orders relative to the chase and firing his weapon). McGrath sustained four of them and dismissed two.

"It was very difficult," McGrath said, of the disciplinary decisions. "I arrived at my decision based on the Critical Incident Review Committee. [They] put their heart and soul into this to get it right... We did not go through the motions on this." 

Of the 13 officers, one retired in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Chief Calvin Williams said that the six suspended officers were still likely a long way from serving the community on the streets of Cleveland, but that he's confident training and protocol within the division has been sufficiently improved over the past three years that an event like this will not happen again. 


Tags: , , , , ,



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2016 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation