CLEVELAND– The trial for a Cleveland police officer accused of manslaughter in the 2012 deadly police chase and shooting continued on Tuesday.
Michael Brelo, 31, is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell is hearing the case, instead of a jury.
In the courtroom on Monday, prosecutors set up a large display depicting the scene of the shooting, which happened in an East Cleveland parking lot. The model will remain in the courtroom for most of the trial.
During opening statements, prosecuting attorneys said Williams and Russell lived on the margins of society, struggling with mental illness and drugs. They accused Brelo of firing 49 shots, including several from the trunk of a zone car and the hood of the suspect’s car.
Defense attorney Patrick D’Angelo said Brelo and the other officers did what they had to in order to survive and protect the community. They believed they were under fire and just because investigators never recovered a gun, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a weapon in Russell’s car, D’Angelo said.
On Tuesday, prosecutors called East Cleveland Police Det. Reggie Holcomb to the stand. Holcomb interviewed several Cleveland police officers the night of the shooting.
Ohio BCI Special Agent Daniel Winterich, who took photos of the crime scene, reviewed the images for the court. Many of the pictures depicted 9 mm casings and bullet holes in the windshield of Russell’s car, while a few showed the deceased inside the vehicle.
Winterich also showed the court a C-clamp, which was used to hold the passenger's side door shut on Russell's car. Prosecutors said during opening statements that Williams was unable to get out of the car because of the clamp, making her a kidnapping victim.
As part of Winterich processing the crime scene, he placed trajectory rods in Russell's Malibu to part the likely path of bullets. He collected a Coca Cola can, a suitcase, a cell phone and a glass pipe from inside the vehicle.