Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo Trial
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Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo Trial Live

Cleveland Patrolman Michael Brelo not guilty on all counts

UPDATE: 10:53 a.m. Judge says
Brelo put his own life in danger, taking action that defied training.

UPDATE 10:44 a.m. Associate Professor of Law Jonathan Witmer-Rich tells that it appears Judge O'Donnell is explaining a not guilty verdict on two counts of voluntary manslaughter, but that lesser charges could still be leveled against the officer.

UPDATE: 10:33 a.m. Judge concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that Brelo caused at least one fatal wound to Russell but not all.

UPDATE 10:33 a.m. "All shots taken.. Deemed legally justifiable," said O'Donnell.

UPDATE: 10:30 a.m. Judge cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt that Brelo fired fatal shots to Russell's head and chest.

UPDATE 10:23 a.m. Judge "cannot find" that Brelo caused four fatal wounds to Timothy Russell because of their different origins.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m. Judge O'Donnell is using the mannequin to explain the trial's findings about he bullet wounds to Timothy Russell's body.

UPDATE 10:11 a.m. Judge O'Donnell has taken the bench.

"Hostility will not subside with one verdict. If Brelo acted wrongly his badge won't protect him," said O'Donnell.

Original story follows.

More than two years after Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were killed during the November 2012 Cleveland police chase and shooting, a judge has reached a verdict in the case of Cleveland patrol officer Michael Brelo, the man charged in their deaths.


Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell will announce the fate of Brelo, who faces two counts of voluntary manslaughter, at 10 a.m. in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court.

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If convicted of both counts, Brelo could face up to 22 years in prison.

O’Donnell could find Brelo guilty of a lesser charge, such as attempted voluntary manslaughter or aggravated assault.

The verdict will determine whether the patrolman committed a crime when he jumped onto the hood of of Russell’s car and fired 15 shots through the windshield at the conclusion of the incident. 

Russell, 43, and Williams, 30, led Cleveland Police on a 23-minute high-speed chase from downtown Cleveland to East Cleveland the evening of November 29, 2012.

The chase started when an officer at thought heard a gunshot come from Russell’s Chevy Malibu outside the Cuyahoga County Justice Center. Investigators later determined the car backfired.

As officers around the city heard radio reports involving an officer being fired upon, they joined the chase.

By the end, 62 Cleveland patrol cars were involved in the chase. It ended when officers blocked Russell and Williams in the parking lot of Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland and then opened fire.

13 Cleveland police officers, including Brelo, fired a total of 137 bullets. Brelo fired 49 of the shots.

Brelo told BCI Investigators he had no recollection of being on the hood of the Russell’s car, but that he had shot at Russell and Williams because they were still moving and he believed they were armed and dangerous.

Russell was shot 23 times. Williams was shot 24 times.

Investigators later discovered the two suspects were unarmed. 

Prosecutors have been arguing in court since April 6 that Brelo is responsible for firing the fatal shots that ultimately killed Russell and Williams.

Along with Brelofive supervisors were criminally charged with two counts each of dereliction of duty. They include Sgt. Patricia Coleman, Sgt. Randolph Daley, Sgt. Michael DoneganSgt. Jason Edens and Lt. Paul Wilson.

In court, all five supervisors were called to the stand. All the supervisors invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A sixth officer, Michael Demchake, immediately stated he was told not to answer questions based on advice from his attorneys when he took the stand.

His response triggered an angry outburst by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

After the prosecution rested its case, Brelo's defense attorney requested an acquittal. O'Donnell denied the request.

Ahead of the verdict, local leaders reached out to communities to urge peaceful protest no matter the outcome.

With recent police incidents sparking riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson laid out an anti-violence plan last week.


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  • 5 Cleveland police officers pleaded the Fifth, invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination after taking the stand.
  • Brelo's defense attorney requested an acquittal after the prosecution rested its case. Judge John P. O'Donnell denied the request.
  • The main questions Judge O'Donnell must answer in his verdict are: Did Brelo's actions cross the line from protecting the public to shooting people who were not a threat at that time AND is he responsible for the victims' deaths?
  • Brelo could face up to 22 years in prison if convicted.
  • Brelo's attorney said his client reasonably perceived he was being shot at.
  • However, police training expert W. Ken Katsaris testified Monday that Brelo was "objectively unreasonable" when he fired from the hood of Russell's car.


On Nov. 29, 2012, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams led Cleveland Police officers on a 23-minute high-speed chase from downtown Cleveland to East Cleveland.

The chase ended in a shooting. 137 shots were fired, killing Williams and Russell. Later, investigators learned they were unarmed.

Six officers were criminally charged. Michael Brelo  faces the most serious charges: two counts of voluntary manslaughter. 

Prosecutors say he jumped onto the hood of Timothy Russell's car and fired at least 15 rounds into the front windshield. Those 15 were only some of the 49 he fired at the scene. Prosecutors allege that Brelo is responsible for the fatal shots.

PHOTOS: Crime scene of November shooting

Brelo's trial started Monday, April 6 and could last weeks.


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