Attorneys for Cleveland officer charged in deadly shooting call expert to review autopsies

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Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo sits next to his attorneys on April 28, 2015.

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CLEVELAND- The trial of a Cleveland police officer charged in the November 2012 deadly police chase and shooting resumed Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Brelo, 31, is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The pair lead police on a 22-minute chase that ended with gunfire behind Heritage Middle School on Nov. 20, 2012.

WARNING: Descriptions and photos in the blog below may be considered graphic.

On Tuesday, the defense called forensic criminologist Dr. Ron Martinelli, who argued that an officer just has to perceive a threat to justify use of deadly force. He said Brelo’s response was reasonable and appropriate, and he had probable cause to shoot. His report also described Officer Brelo’s actions as “bizarre.”

“He left one position and exposed himself more than we are trained,” Martinelli said on Wednesday.

He said if Russell and Williams would have stopped the car, then the events leading to their deaths would not have happened.

Assistant prosecutor Jim Gutierrez’s cross examination was emotional at times, as the attorney and Martinelli raised their voices and interrupted each other.

“I’m not a minder reader, I put down the forensic facts,” Martinelli said during one exchange.

“You’re not a scientist and you’re not a doctor, is that right?” Gutierrez said.

Next, the defense called pathologist Dr. Susan J. Roe, who works in Fort Worth, Texas, to review the autopsies. She concluded Williams and Russell were already dead by the time Officer Brelo fired shots from the hood of the suspect’s car.

Prosecutors claim Brelo acted beyond the scope of a police officer when he fired 49 shots into Russell’s Malibu. But defense attorney maintain their client was trying to protect himself and his fellow officers.

Continuing coverage of the Michael Brelo trial here.

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