Arbitrator Upholds Firing of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo, Overturns Five Other Terminations

Police fired 137 gunshots at Timothy Russell's Chevy Malibu, photographed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Police fired 137 gunshots at Timothy Russell's Chevy Malibu, photographed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
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An arbitrator upheld the firing of a Cleveland police officer who took part in a fatal shooting of two unarmed people after a chase in 2012. The terminations of five other officers were overturned.  

The mayor’s office released a copy of the arbitration decision on Tuesday.

Last year, the city disciplined all but one of the 13 officers who fired 137 gunshots at a Chevy Malibu in November 2012. The driver, Timothy Russell, and his passenger, Malissa Williams, died in the gunfire. Half of those officers were terminated, the other half suspended.

After the police union filed grievances, an arbitrator sustained only one firing: that of Michael Brelo, who was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the shooting.

Prosecutors said Brelo fired more than a dozen shots while standing on the hood of the Malibu. That, arbitrator William Heekin wrote in his decision, “was an application of deadly force that had no basis in any Police Division administrative rule, policy or training as a police officer.”

But he wrote that the city did not prove it had just cause to dismiss the others. He wrote that four had received good performance reviews in the past, and another received several commendations in the years since the shooting.

Heekin upheld the six suspensions. 

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