CLEVELAND- The trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo continued Wednesday morning in a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas courtroom.
Brelo is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the deaths of two people in the November 2012 police chase and shooting. Judge John P. O’Donnell is hearing the case.
Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams led police on a 22-minute chase through the city of Cleveland that ended in gunfire behind an East Cleveland middle school. Police reported hearing a gunshot coming from Russell’s 1979 Chevrolet Malibu, but investigators never recovered a weapon.
Prosecutors said Brelo fired 49 out of 137 shots that were found in and around the suspect’s car. Defense attorneys argue Brelo and other officers believed they were coming under fire, and acted to protect themselves and the community.
On Tuesday, East Cleveland Police Det. Reggie Holcomb testified he interviewed several Cleveland police officers who did not fire their weapons.
Ohio BCI Special Agent Daniel Winterich also took the stand to review the photos he took of the crime scene. The hundreds of photos showed bullet fragments, cartridge casings, tire skid marks, bullet holes and even the two deceased still in the car.
Winterich resumed his testimony on Wednesday, showing the judge a photo of a BCI agent reenacting where the shooter would be standing in order to fire a particular shot. The measurements and trajectories put the shooter on top of a Cleveland police cruiser.
Next, BCI Special Agent Brenda McNeely told the judge she took measurements to create diagrams of the scene. She also took footwear impressions from Officer Brelo on Dec. 10, 2012. There were several footprints left on the suspect’s car and a Cleveland police cruiser, but testimony has not indicated the prints belong to Brelo.
Before the start of the trial, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty accused some Cleveland police officers of not cooperating with investigators. This issue came back into play when Officer Michael Demchak took the stand and pleaded the Fifth Amendment.
Judge O’Donnell ruled Demchak, who was working in the third district the night of the shooting, does not have to answer the questions. He stepped down from the stand after only explaining his work history.
The photos below were presented as evidence on Tuesday.