Expert testimony in trial of Cleveland police officer charged with manslaughter

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Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo sits in court on April 7, 2015. (Photo: Jen Steer/Fox 8)

CLEVELAND- The trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo resumed Thursday morning.

Brelo, 31, is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a chase through Cleveland in November 2012.

Prosecutors said Brelo fired 49 of 137 shots into Russell’s 1979 Chevrolet Malibu, killing both people inside. Defense attorneys argue that Brelo and his fellow officers believed they were under fire and did what they had to in order to survive.

On Wednesday, Officer Michael Demchak took the Fifth Amendment. Demchak, an officer for 33 years, was working in the third district the night of the shooting. Judge John O’Donnell ruled that Demchak did not have testify, despite arguments from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

O’Donnell accused prosecutors of trying to shame Demchak into testifying.

Prosecutors also presented maps showing Cleveland police car locations from Nov. 29, 2012. Longitude, latitude, speed, time and distance are recorded from the cruisers allowing analysts to create a video “replay” of that night.

On Thursday, James Benya of Benya Burnett Consultancy shared his expertise on the lighting behind Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland the night of the shooting. In 2014, Benya went to the scene to measure light coming from the parking lot lights and police lights, taking into consideration weather conditions.

More on Wednesday’s testimony here.

Continuing coverage here.

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