Police Officers Fired/Suspended for Firing 137 Shots

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The City of Cleveland has terminated the jobs of six Cleveland police officers and suspended six others for their roles in a 2012 incident in which 137 shots were fired - killing 2 unarmed suspects. ideastream’s Annie Wu has details on the administrative review of the incident.

Michael Brelo is among the six officers who’ve been fired by the city.  A disciplinary letter notes that Brelo violated police department policies including use of force and firearms safety.   It also pointed out that he fired 49 times, more than twice that of any other officer on the scene.  Brelo is the only officer in the incident who was tried on criminal charges.  He was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter this past spring.  At a press conference yesterday, Safety Director Michael McGrath said six other officers received suspensions between 21 to 30 days. 

"At the end of the day, there are general police orders," McGrath said.  "There are manual rules and regulations that we expect officers to comply with."

Some of those regulations were put in place by McGrath.  The November 2012 cross-town chase and shooting happened under his watch as then Police Chief.  A US Justice Department review of the Cleveland Police Department following the incident found the CPD "engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force."  But Mayor Frank Jackson said McGrath’s actions then and now demonstrate leadership.

"He set up in place policies on the use of force, policies on use of deadly force, policies on chase, he put new training in place," Jackson said, defending McGrath.  "He engaged other people and brought in consultants.  He did all those things. The fact that people did not follow that is an individual decision on their part."

But the police union says it wasn’t the officers who decided to break the law.  Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis says it was the suspects -- Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

"Going 105 mph down the highway is felony fleeing and alluding, putting the citizens of this city at risk for 22 minutes," Loomis said at a press conference defending the officers actions.  "That’s not the police decision to do that.  That’s the bad guys’ decision to do that. And I’m gonna get beat up for saying bad guy but damn it, that’s what it is.  Those folks had a choice to make and they didn’t make it.  They made the wrong choices."

Loomis doesn’t believe justice was served but then again, neither does local activist Kyle Early.  He’s with the group It’s Not a Moment, It’s a Movement.

"Justice would have been not only Michael Brelo but the other officers being tried and convicted for what they have done especially when these officers protected by their police union will then fight this and an arbitrator can overturn and overrule the decision."

This isn’t the first administrative review of the incident.  In 2013, 12 supervisors and 74 officers were either fired, suspended, demoted or reprimanded for their involvement in the chase.  Appeals in some of those cases have resulted in disciplinary actions being reduced or repealed.  Five supervisors still await a court trial for misdemeanor charges.  The police union says it intends to appeal yesterday’s disciplinary actions. 

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