CLEVELAND - A judge has denied part of a motion to throw out two manslaughter charges filed against a Cleveland police officer.
But Judge John O'Donnell did grant the defense motion to toss out gun specifications against Officer Michael Brelo.
In a portion of the judge's ruling, he said:
If he (Brelo) is eventually found guilty of voluntary manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt in the face of his affirmative defense that all of his shots were legally justified it will mean only that he was not justified in taking one of more of those last 15 shots to confront the perceived threat. In other words, he will have made "an unreasonable or unjustified mistake of fact or judgement regarding a perceived threat while carrying out his official duties," id., and the firearm specifications cannot be applied to him.
Based upon the evidence and the law, the defendant's Criminal Rule 29 motion for a complete acquittal on all charges in denied but his alternative motion for an acquittal on the firearm specifications is granted.
Brelo's trial will resume Monday, with the defense presenting their side of the case.
The prosecution rested last week.
The prosecution's response to the ruling was this:
If the Union has every confidence in this country's judicial system then why not encourage its members to testify when subpoenaed? Why are they hiding?
Why didn't its officers tell the East Cleveland Detectives and the BCI Task Force what they knew actually happened on November 29, 2012? The most important fact of the night was that an officer ignored a cease fire order, jumped on the hood of the stopped and surrounded car and taking aim with both hands, shot the two unarmed persons inside 15 times! And they just forgot to mention it?
The Union has inflicted astonishing damage on the reputation of CPD and all the good, honest, and dedicated officers, past and present, who have put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of Cleveland. The fact that its leaders still have the audacity to maintain this was a 'perfect chase' when they know that there was never a gun, that the passenger was trapped in the car, fighting right in view of the officers to get out, a kidnapped victim, yet they shot her up like a modern-day Bonnie Parker, and finally that by ignoring the rules and proper police procedures, they shot up each other's cars and almost killed their own officers shows how far removed from reality the Union stubbornly remains.
In response to the judge's ruling, Police Union President Steve Loomis said:
Judge O'Donnell's ruling and opinions were very thoughtul and anticipated by our defense team. We look forward to presenting our defense and continue to have every confidence in our judicial system.
Prosecutors maintain Brelo did not act reasonably the night of the shooting by getting on the hood of the suspects car and firing. Officials have said 13 officers fired 137 shots, and Brelo fired 49 of those shots.
The November 29, 2012 shooting claimed the lives of two suspects, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
The defense, however, said Brelo and the other officers feared for their lives that night and thought they were being shot at by the suspects. No gun was found in the suspect’s car.