CLEVELAND- The trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo, who is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter, continued Tuesday morning.
Prosecutors said Brelo, 31, used unnecessary force during a November 2012 police chase and shooting that took the lives of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
Brelo's attorneys allege their client believed he was in a dangerous situation, and was trying to protect himself and the community.
On Monday, prosecutors called five Cleveland police supervisors to the stand and they all took the Fifth Amendment. They are codefedants in the case and are charged with dereliction of duty.
Other members of the Cleveland Division of Police, including Det. Roland Mitchell, did testify. He told the judge he was involved in parts of the chase in an unmarked car, but did not see the shooting. Mitchell also recalled talking to Officer Brelo the night of the shooting. He said Brelo had two rounds left in his gun.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors also presented evidence from phones belonging to three Cleveland police officers. BCI Agent Natasha Branam said there were photos of the shooting scene and the victims on the phones, as well as notes about that night.
On Tuesday, Curtiss Jones with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office trace evidence unit continued to review the clothing removed from Williams and Russell after the shooting. Williams, who was homeless, was wearing several layers of clothes, including two jackets and a couple T-shirts. Many of the items were marked with yellow tags to note bullet holes. Russell's clothes were also riddled with bullet holes and stained with blood.
Jones said he tested Russell's hands and Williams' gloves for metal, which came back negative. However, the defense pointed out that not everyone reacts to the trace metal detection test.
Forensic mechanic H. Lyn Smith testified that Russell's 1979 Chevrolet Malibu was more likely to backfire because of its carburetor and a hole in the muffler indicated previous backfires. Officers originally reported hearing shots from the car, leading to the chase, but prosecutors said Williams and Russell were unarmed.
"If you were going to build a car that would backfire, this would be the poster child," Smith said.
In the afternoon, Officer Brian Sabolik was called to the scene. At the time of the Nov. 29, 2012 shooting, Sabolik was a rookie and in the fifth month of his six-month probation period.
"The scaredest I have ever been in my life," Sabolik said, describing when he and his field training officer pulled into the parking lot at Heritage Middle School
The officer said he fired his weapon during the shooting and saw an officer standing on the hood of the Malibu, firing down. Sabolik said Officer Brelo told him that he was the one who was on the hood of the car.
Timothy Russell's sister, Michelle Russell, also testified on Tuesday. She described her brother as happy, funny and a hard worker, adding she didn't know him to carry a weapon. According to Michelle Russell, Timothy fled from police once before and crashed his car. While at a nursing home recovering, Timothy Russell met Williams.
"He was probably harder on himself than anyone else because he was a Christian and he was trying to get his life together," Michelle Russell said, as tears streamed down her face.
Michelle and Timothy's brother, David Russell, said he wished he had a time machine so he could change things and his brother might still be alive.
"Maybe not give him that car," David Russell said about the Chevrolet Malibu. He sold Timothy Russell the car for $600, but warned him that it leaked gas.
The trial will resume Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
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