CLEVELAND- Days before a Cleveland police officer is set to go on trial for manslaughter in connection with a deadly shooting, fellow officers are trying to avoid getting called to testify.
Michael Brelo is facing two counts of manslaughter for a shooting after a massive police chase in 2012. Thirteen Cleveland officers fired 137 shots, but prosecutors say Brelo alone fired dozens of shots and kept firing after others had stopped.
Two of the others who fired have filed motions asking a judge to block subpoenas so that they don’t have to testify. Their attorneys argue that they’ve already given multiple statements to investigators, and they’re concerned that eventually they too could still face charges.
Prosecutors have also recently filed court papers complaining that they are getting little or no cooperation from dozens of officers.
Meantime, the Fox 8 I-TEAM obtained a memo sent out by Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association leaders to officers. It told officers they only had to talk to prosecutors if they wanted to.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty issued a statement on Friday about the lack of cooperation, calling a statement from representatives of the union “inflammatory and inaccurate.”
“A police officer who has taken an oath to protect and serve this city is not doing his duty when he refuses to testify and give evidence or when he pleads the Fifth Amendment during a criminal investigation into the actions by an on-duty police officer. No ordinary citizen has a right to do that in cases involving their friends or associates – and neither do police officers,” McGinty said.
Steve Loomis, police union president, responded Friday night. “In the absence of fact, these parlor tricks and smoke and mirror tactics of Tim McGinty are his attempt to try this case in the public and not the courtroom.”
Loomis also said every officer did cooperate. He said all officers involved gave statements to BCI right after the chase.
More than two years after the shooting, the city is keeping its internal review secret.
The trial is set for Monday before Judge John O’Donnell. Ultimately, he will decide the case instead of a jury at Brelo’s request.
Stay with FOX 8 for continuing coverage of the trial.