5 Officers Involved In Cleveland ‘137-Shots’ Chase Get Jobs Back


Former Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo will remain fired for his role in the November 2012 police chase and shooting that ended with Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams dying in a hail of 137 bullets, according to his attorney.

Arbitrator William Heekin ruled that Brelo should remain fired and that five other officers who were fired should get their jobs back, without back pay. Heekin also upheld the suspension of six other officers involved in the chase.

In reinstating the fired officers, the arbitrator did not refute the claims against them. In most cases he simply stated that the officers had been good officers before the incident, quoting from a supervisor who spoke on the officer’s behalf.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement that he’s pleased with the arbitrator’s ruling that Brelo should remain off the force.

“We are pleased that the arbitrator confirmed the severity of the violations committed by the officers and that he upheld the termination of Officer Brelo and that he upheld the lengthy suspensions for the six officers who the City had not terminated,” the statement said.

Jackson, however, also said he was disappointed with the reinstatement of officers Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik and Michael Farley and detectives Christopher Ereg and Erin O’Donnell.

“We believe that the City’s decision to terminate the other five officers was justified and should have been upheld,” Jackson’s statement says. “We acknowledge that the arbitrator concluded that those officers committed serious policy violations; however, we are reviewing our options regarding the officers whose terminations were not upheld.”

All six officers took their cases to arbitration in October.

“It was a difficult case for both sides and a gratifying outcome,” D’Angelo said. “We realize we didn’t prevail in everything that we were seeking but we saved the career of five fine officers.”

It is unknown if either side will try and appeal the arbitrators ruling.

“Hopefully after further deliberations by both parties, this should be the end of this saga,” D’Angelo said. “Hopefully there will be no appeal and we can go forward.”

Heekin upheld the 21-day suspensions for officers Scott Sistek, Cynthia Moore, Randy Patrick, Paul Box and Det. William Salupo, along with a 22-day suspension for Det. Michael Rinkus.

Heekin also upheld Brelo’s firing because of the “egregious” nature of his errors, including firing 49 shots into the car, including 15-18 shots after he jumped on top of the hood of Russell’s car when Russell and Williams posed no threat.

“Indeed Officer Brelo never offered a reason or an explanation for these actions,” Heekin wrote. “Accordingly and upon finding that this clearly constituted an excessive use of deadly force, the contention of the City that it amounted to egregious misconduct where as a result the City no longer has trust and confidence in his ability to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a police officer is accepted.”

A Cuyahoga County judge acquitted Brelo of all charges in the criminal case and the city fired Brelo and the five other officers months later.

The city fired the officers more than three years after the Nov. 29, 2012 chase that began near the downtown Justice Center and ended 22 miles later in a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland.

Thirteen officers then fired a total of 137 shots at a Chevrolet Malibu, killing Russell, 43, and Williams, 30.

The shooting lasted 19.3 seconds. The majority of the shots — approximately 120 — were fired in 10.3 seconds.

The case rocketed the city of Cleveland to the forefront of a national conversation on police use of force, predating the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by almost two years.

Brelo was acquitted in May 2015 of two counts of voluntary manslaughter. The acquittal resulted in days of mostly peaceful demonstrations that saw about 70 people arrested.

For the full story at : http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/06/michael_brelo_stays_fired_othe.html#incart_2box