Trial date for Cleveland officer leads to courtroom face-off

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CLEVELAND-- A trial date is set for a Cleveland police officer involved in a deadly police chase and shooting nearly two years ago.

The prosecutor and a defense attorney had a verbal sparring match over the date that was set.

The trial for Brelo is scheduled to begin on October 22.  Defense attorney Pat D’Angelo feels that is too soon, but Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty says they have had enough time to prepare and are just stalling.

MCGINTY:  "He prevented witnesses from testifying, made this thing last longer.”

D’ANGELO: “Your honor, that's a lie and he's demonstrated that he's fully capable of lying about what transpired here.”

JUDGE: “Please, try not to let your temper get the better of you.”

D’ANGELO: “It's not my temper, your honor. He's made accusations which are not true."

McGinty and D'Angelo faced off inside the courtroom of Judge John O'Donnell Monday.

D'Angelo represents Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo, who is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter. Brelo is accused of firing 49 of the 137 shots, when 13 officers unloaded into a car at the end of a 22-minute police chase in November 29, 2012.

The driver, Timothy Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams, were killed. No gun was found in the car.

Brelo's defense team says they need more time to prepare for the trial.

"He's given more time than the average case. He's had as he's stated and worked hard, there's no doubt the defense has worked hard in this period and the two year period they've had the case," McGinty told the court.

"I would dare say that this criminal case has more volume, more witnesses, more documents, more disks, than any other criminal case on your docket. Ask them whether they've read pages one through 3,500; I bet you they haven't," D’Angelo responded.

Prosecutors say they expect to call 50 witnesses to testify. When Judge O'Donnell refused to change the start date, D'Angelo told him that he wasn't understanding the volume of evidence involved.

"He's attacking the court personally. These are his tactics. They're deplorable; they're less than professional," said McGinty.

"I'm not gonna have the state play to the cameras and make it look like they're ready and we're hiding and we're afraid and we are trying to delay because we are not," D’Angelo said.

Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association told Fox 8: "We’re not happy about the decision but we are ready to go forward. This trial will prove officer Brelo’s innocence.”

Prosecutor McGinty told the court he believes the trial would take about two weeks, but Judge O’Donnell has set aside six or seven weeks.

Five supervisors, four sergeants and a lieutenant, face dereliction of duty charges related to the incident.  Their trials will be set after Brelo’s trial is over.

Get continuing coverage on the deadly police chase here.