CLEVELAND- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty held a news conference shortly after Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was found not guilty on all charges in connection with his role in the deadly 2012 police chase.
Brelo had been charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell.
McGinty released the following statement, "Although profoundly disappointed with today’s verdict, I respect the legal process we have followed here and we accept the Judge’s decision. I urge everyone else, especially those who shared our hope for a different outcome, to do so as well. The rule of law, so fundamental to our American society, demands nothing less. Second, I want to thank the prosecutors and staff in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office who formed a team and worked with enthusiasm and dedication to achieve justice. I was extremely proud of their efforts and of the case we presented. A series if tragic errors on November 29, 2012, and the subsequent trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo forced all of us, the City, the community and the police to confront some tough issues that many would have preferred to postpone. The trial forced us to examine how and why so many errors and flawed assumptions could have led to the deaths of two unarmed people – a totally innocent, trapped and essentially kidnapped mentally ill passenger and a panicked and disturbed petty criminal – after a chase of more than 20 minutes and 20 miles that involved more than 100 officers and was led by a group of supervisors who ignored their training and Division of Police rules. To highlight the danger that the out-of-control police also posed to the innocent public and to one another, one only need examine the heavy “friendly fire” they inflicted on their own police cars. Only by the grace of God did we not have a number of police deaths. If we all listen to the powerful and undisputable lessons that the Heritage Middle School shootout has taught us, there will never have to be another Brelo trial. If we correct the failures that made this tragedy possible, the city and its citizens do not have to suffer through another fiasco. This was a challenging case, but I would not hesitate to do it again if the facts and the law demand it. I was proud our efforts to seek justice in this case."
McGinty says he still expects to pursue dereliction of duty charges against 5 police supervisors involved in the chase.
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