Expert says Cleveland officer charged in deadly shooting had appropriate response
CLEVELAND- The defense continued to present its case in the trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo on Tuesday.
Brelo, 31, is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The two lead police on a 22-minute chase before being shot and killed behind Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland on Nov. 29, 2012.
WARNING: Images and descriptions in the blog below may be considered graphic.
On Monday, attorneys for Brelo called an audio expert as well as an expert on human vision.
The defense used forensic scientist Lance Martini to argue Russell was already dead when Brelo fired 15 shots from the hood of the suspect’s car.
Brelo’s attorneys also called Dr. Ron Martinelli, CEO of Martinelli and Associates, and a forensic criminologist for 26 years. Martinelli said Brelo had an appropriate response to what he perceived as a threat to his life.
“Officers are actually firing and hitting the police vehicles, especially (Cleveland police car) 238,” Martinelli said. Brelo believed the shots were coming from inside the suspect’s car, according to Martinelli. He concluded that Brelo’s action were reasonable and he had probable cause.
During its case, prosecutors claimed Brelo acted beyond the scope of a police officer when he fired 49 shots into Russell’s Chevrolet Malibu. Defense attorneys argue Brelo believed he and his fellow officers were in danger, and was trying to stay alive.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell is hearing the case, instead of a jury. On Sunday, he rejected a motion by Brelo’s attorneys to dismiss the charges.