Judge bizarrely acquits Cleveland police officer of voluntary manslaughter

In a bizarre miscarriage of justice today, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell acquitted Officer Michael Brelo of two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, who were chased and gunned down by police after the vehicle in which they were riding accidentally backfired as they were driving past police headquarters. They were unarmed.

62 police vehicles participated in the ensuing 22 mile chase that reached speeds over 100 mph.

Thirteen officers, including Brelo, fired 137 shots into the vehicle. Russell had 23 bullet wounds and Williams had 24. Prosecutors said they only charged Brelo because he jumped up on the hood of the vehicle after it stopped and fired 15 shots through the windscreen into their bodies after they were no longer a threat, but still alive.

NBC reports,

[Judge] O’Donnell said that while he found beyond a reasonable doubt that Brelo caused at least one fatal wound to Williams’ chest, he couldn’t determine that the other fatal shots came from his gun.

“One or two other officers inflicted” the others, O’Donnell said, and therefore, he couldn’t find Brelo guilty of Williams’ death.

Judge O’Donnell also found that Brelo acted improperly when he jumped up on the hood of the car

Given these findings, I think he should have convicted Brelo of voluntary manslaughter for the death of Williams. If two or more people fire fatal shots (i.e., that would have caused death), each is guilty of killing the victim even if the ME can’t tell which shot actually killed the victim. That’s basic criminal law.

What do you think?

Here’s the judge’s 35 page decision.

To follow on Twitter: #Brelo

30 Responses to Judge bizarrely acquits Cleveland police officer of voluntary manslaughter

  1. gblock says:

    Would convicting him on the lesser charge of assault with a deadly weapon have been a possibility? It seems that there should have been no doubt of THAT anyway, even if it wasn’t clear whose bullets killed them.

    • a2nite says:


      He’s completely free. I hope he suffering a lot. At least he’s not getting a paid vacation.

    • Dismissing the felony assault charge is consistent with his acquittal. Both are indefensible, IMO.

    • a2nite says:


      FYI: the CIO,kkkops never have been convicted of murder in CLE.

      That is why Tamir Rice’s death bodes poorly also.

      To paraphrase an evil white man, blacks have no rights a white man is bound to respect.

      The white supremacist “justice” system confirms that yet again, mo rights & no respect.

  2. a2nite says:

    FYI there is an effort to get him fired.

  3. racerrodig says:

    With all the police initiated violence happening I’m going on the record by saying Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife are the only 2 we can actually call “Peace Officers”

    Any takers on Brelo suing for all his back pay ??

  4. a2nite says:

    It’s not bizarre at all. It’s the state sponsored killing & oppression of us; the state can’t punish itself.

    I’m sure racist whites are crowing that justice was “served” & the n****rs got paid off.

    Remember white people anything they do to us they’ll do to you. I’m glad that evil has been exposed because it’s been winning most of my life.

  5. MichelleO says:

    Does anyone ever ask themselves why the US government has decided to invest itself in such Draconian Laws? Like, why now are they doing these types of things to citizens and allowed to get away with it? Today’s police are not even trying to hide their contempt for citizenry with their military standing and weaponry. What’s really behind all of this and when does it come to an end?.

    • Malisha says:

      I asked MYself this question and here’s what I came up with:

      1. We are headed toward neofeudalism;

      2. For this, we need a citizenry that will not revolt;

      3. For that, we need an army we can turn against the crowd;

      4. For that, we need an internal fighting force (NOT our real army, which is 80% lower class people who have enlisted to secure training, income and benefits that are not otherwise available to their economic class);

      5. That internal fighting force is a militarized police force that is responsive NOT to a government-controlled authority but to a corporate-controlled municipal or county-level authority that can operate without too much oversight;

      6. This does NOT come to an end. Once neofeudalism is in place, it can only come to an end if the lower classes become either armed enough to revolt or desperate enough to go all the way back to the “dark ages” of losing a thousand lives to gain an inch of relief. Arab Spring is ADVANCED in comparison to what we will need to do to ever emerge from the next feudal society because NOW, the trains will run on time and the camps will be privatized everywhere HERE.

      this is where torture, corruption, money, lying, and our courts have led us so far and this is our future. Thank you Judge Everyman, Judge Everywoman, Judge “Bizarrely.” Here we go.

    • a2nite says:

      @ MichelleO: this has always happened. It’s filmed so it looks more prevalent.

    • gblock says:

      It isn’t actually what the laws say. It’s that it is treated as OK for the police to act this way even though the laws say otherwise.

      • a2nite says:


        What law? The evil kkkops appear exempted from punishment according the the 5 evil kkkop loving SCOTUS.

  6. Malisha says:

    What I think about this decision?

    1. It is not bizarre. It is commonplace. It may, by now, even be “bizarre” to expect justice in our courts. In every court in every county in every state of this union every single day this same scenario places out over and over and over again: Corrupt judges, lying abusers, lying murderers, fixes, and decisions that go so greatly against the weight of the evidence that they bear no relation even to logic, much less to law.

    2. The judge is a criminal who is not breaking any law because the law allows for him to be a criminal. The defense lawyers did not even have to be half competent because all they had to do was to go “blah blah blah blah” and the outcome was already a foregone conclusion. And the solution to all this does NOT lie in “reform” or “consciousness raising” or “peaceful protest” or “public opinion” or “improvement of our society” or any more blah blah blah.

    Where does the solution lie?

    That’s for someone else.

  7. Two sides to a story says:

    USA definitely needs specific laws about excessive use of force by police officers. Talk about domestic terrorism in this case. Why weren’t all the police officers in this case tagged for overuse of force? No justice, no trust.

    • a2nite says:

      @ Two sides:
      Eric Garner’s murderer wasn’t indicted although he wasn’t the only one a party to it.

      There was no video & only one officer testilied. The ME was discounted by that evil judge. None of the other officers was indicted for manslaughter. There was a lot of pleading the 5th & not responding to questions. Don’t know if any immunity was offered. It must be no it is ok to murder us. We are at war with very little help.

      I have followed this case peripherally as I live in CLE & have been concerned I don’t knows what the time frame of the indictment vs when the trial started was as the evil kkkops killed them in Nov 2012.

  8. gblock says:

    I finally had a chance yesterday to catch up on the Apperson/Zimmerman situation. While I don’t feel that I know for sure what happened in the latest incident, there is good reason to disbelieve Zimmerman’s version of it – between the fact that his story sounds like really badly written movie dialogue and his past history. And does anyone believe his claim that he has moved out of the area and just returned for Mother’s Day? So, what is he hiding?

    Although it’s obviously wrong to shoot into a moving car, it sounds like the judge may have put Apperson into a difficult spot. Apperson is required to avoid Zimmerman, but Zimmerman decided that he didn’t want to tell the judge where he is likely to be. So the judge told Apperson that if he is becomes aware of Zimmerman being on the same premises that he is, he is required to leave, no matter how inconvenient it is. And Zimmerman is under no obligation to do the same.

    So can you imagine a situation where someone may be stalking you, and is known to delight in tormenting people, and you have to stay out of *his* way? Yikes! Is there any likelihood that Apperson can get a restraining order if Zimmerman seems to start turning up places where Apperson is on purpose?

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Narcissists and sociopaths love to lie for the sake of lying. And we’ve watched Fogen lie repeatedly. I wasn’t surprised that his version of this shooting again sounds like a bad movie script – that’s exactly what it is!

    • Too bad he missed.

  9. MichelleO says:

    “What do you think?”

    What do I think? I think black Americans are sunk. When they are through with us, then they will come for the rest of the undesirables.

  10. What am I missing? I followed this case and I thought it was pretty open and shut. I was concerned about the fact that others weren’t charged, but I was so sure this man would be convicted. This does not bode well for the Tamir Rice case.

  11. Rev Bev says:

    Thanks for the comment about Basic Criminal law. I was already wondering about joint liability without knowing the factors. Surely does look like that posse was in it together….so sad.

  12. a2nite says:

    The evil judge gave permission for the cops to murder by firing squad.

    Maybe he, the defense & the prosecutor were in on it together.

    Every murdering cop should have been tried.

    Evil white/blue supremacy wins again.

    I live in CLE and it sucks.

    • Yes, this is a terrible decision and yet another bad day for justice in Cleveland.

      • racerrodig says:

        How this “Judge” can start off by ripping on the populace about the cops killing a 12 year old is a joke. The Judge is supposed to be, how can I put it……completely unbiased. Correct me if I’m wrong.

        The BS claim he was in fear of anything, yet thought they were armed and still got as close as possible by jumping on the hood is a joke. This is sickening.

        This is the picture I see……just the 1st 5 seconds.

    • I live in Akron a2nite, and I agree with you. It sucks. There will be no justice for Tamir Rice either. 6 months, really??? Both cops have used their 5th amendment, and therefore have not even been questioned. How is that able to be allowed??? I don’t understand the hold up. We all saw the video, and yet before it surfaced, these liars charged this kid with inducing panic, and aggravated menacing??? I am completely disgusted, this injustice is going to be the cause of a serious riot. It has been so long since the 137 shots case, no one is very surprised. It was a joke not to charge every cop that fired their weapons with the same charge as brelo. All were just as guilty as he is. Once again, it sucks.

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