Police Abuse

Six Cleveland Officers Involved in 2012 Car Chase That Ended With 136 Shots Fired Have Been Terminated

Unclear whether the only officer involved in the chase who was criminally charged was among those fired



The Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) has announced that it was firing six of the officers involved in the 2012 shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The shooting came at the end of a car chase that started in Cleveland when an officer mistook backfire from Russell's car for gunshots, and ended in East Cleveland with more than a dozen officers shooting at the car. One of the officers, Michael Brelo, fired several rounds while standing on the hood of Russell's cars.

While neither Russell nor Williams were armed, Brelo avoided a conviction by arguing he felt his safety had been threatened by Russell. After the shooting, Cleveland asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the police department. In 2014, for the second time in a decade the DOJ said it found evidence of the CDP engaging in a pattern and practice of police brutality and violation of constitutional rights. Among the requirements of the settlement with the DOJ, police are prohibited from using retaliatory force and mandated to offer medical assistance to their victims.

Today's announcement by police did not come with any details of which officers were fired, only that that information was forthcoming. The CDP had previously promised more disciplinary measures against the officers involved in the shooting for, among other things, leaving the city without permission and shooting in a matter that put other officers at risk of crossfire. At the time, the Cleveland police union said it would fight the disciplinary measures but it has not yet commented on the announcement.

In 2013, CDP suspended 63 officers in relation to the car chase and shooting, with suspensions lasting up to ten days. None of the 13 officers involved in the shooting, who were under grand jury investigation at the time, were part of that disciplinary officers. As mentioned above, only one of the officers, Michael Brelo, was charged, and he was acquitted. All the cops remained on the payroll after the fatal shooting, with at least one managing to retire before being disciplined, meaning his pension and other retirement benefits were not put at risk.

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  1. Had to give them time to find another department to hire them.

    1. All the cops remained on the payroll after the fatal shooting, with at least one managing to retire before being disciplined, meaning his pension and other retirement benefits were not put at risk.

      Or retire to live comfortably off the taxpayers for the rest of his miserable existence. I’ve said it before but it bares repeating: I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. That one way Mars trip is looking more and more attractive.

  2. While neither Russell nor Williams were armed, Brelo avoided a conviction by arguing he felt his safety had been threatened by Russell.

    If they unarmed and sitting in the car, what possible justification could he have for being afraid of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams?

    Wait…nevermind. I think I got it.

    1. They weren’t just “sitting in the car”:

      Cleveland man Timothy Russell, 43, led police on a chase through the city, reaching speeds of over 100 mph. After 22 minutes and more than 60 police cars joining the pursuit […]

      Not that this Darwin Award behavior excuses the police over-reaction, but it does help explain things. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      1. I guess being born into a country where cops look at people with their skin color as the Most Dangerous Game is pretty stupid. They shoulda known better.

        1. Everyone here is constantly telling us how dangerous the cops are. So, people should treat them as dangerous.

          1. Right, which is why they drove away from the cops.

            1. Haha, no. In these days of license plates and police radios, driving away from cops rarely works, and is the more dangerous choice to anyone with half a brain. They can outrun you, one way or the other. You treat the cops like a dangerous animal: don’t run, don’t make sudden moves.

            2. Well, we know that driving towards the cops is also a death sentence. Dead if you do, dead if you don’t.

              1. There’s an option other than driving toward and driving away. It’s called “stopping.”

                1. I seem to recall that the officers who first started chasing them were plainclothes and in an unmarked car, who started firing on them after mistaking a backfire for being shot at themselves.

                  So, in that case it would be two people who fled from men in a strange vehicle shooting at them, so I have to give them a bit more benefit of the doubt about the initial running in this case.

                  It’s easy to say don’t run from the cops or just do what they say and complain later, but in so many of these cases the cops don’t look like cops.

                  1. I can’t find much about the beginning of the event, but in the middle Russell rammed a police car, and at the end he was boxed in by police cars and still tried to get away. So it’s not as if he didn’t realize they were cops for at least the last part of the chase.

                    1. As the police are fond of using as an excuse, once the adrenaline is up it’s pretty hard to make rational decisions. Maybe their ‘Muscles had already fired 🙂 Also, considering the cluster fuck this chase seems to have been with officers swooping in from all over with no co-ordination, it’s really up in the air whether even if that happened did they do it intentionally, or just get banged around when one cop tried to do that cool PIT maneuver thing they read about in the latest issue of Police.

                      I tend to concur with the ‘don’t poke the bear’ sentiment, but it has the stink of ‘you brought this on yourself’ especially when it isn’t hard to find cases where completely innocent people get this treatment.
                      A fairly recent list that comes to mind;
                      Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, Roger Carlos in San Antonio, that officer in SC that shot a guy at the gas station; going further back we have that unconscious diabetic who was pulled from his car and beaten while the officers shouted ‘stop resisting, motherfucker’ the preacher in Toccoa Georgia shot by the undercover officers in ski masks at at gas station. And so on.

                      I’d say that while you do have a point that running isn’t logical, it’s pretty damned understandable.

                    2. No, I don’t think it’s “understandable.” Yes, you can make a list of such incidents, but add up all the cases of people abused by police, and that’s what percentage of total police encounters? 0.1%? 0.001%? It makes no sense to attempt to escape a 0.1% threat by doing something that has a low possibility of reducing it to zero, but a much higher possibility of making happen the very thing you fear.

                    3. Since the police actively fight any attempt to keep a record of anything other than when an officer is killed or assaulted we have no way of knowing that or even making a meaningful guess.

                      Further, if you only look at extreme cases like this one the numbers do seem pretty small. But most cases of cops being assholes don’t make the news, don’t result in injury or death, just a lot of seething anger at being treated like shit.
                      Then, when you see a case like this, it can be the last straw. No, it isn’t sensible, or logical, just human.

                2. Stop for police and get shot anyway: http://www.miamiherald.com/lat…..40238.html

                  Or get shot by police before even given the chance to stop, like Tamir Rice.

            3. I seem to recall they drove away – at a high rate of speed – after the cops started shooting at them. They didn’t stop for the cops? Oh, you mean those guys chasing us and shooting at us for no reason? Yeah, we’ll just stop and make stationery targets of ourselves, they’re bound to stop shooting at us then.

              It’s not like there’s not plenty of people who run like hell when they see the cops because they know the cops have a tendency to be kinda shooty and kicky and punchy – and then the cops use that as an excuse to shoot and kick and punch them and claim they have no idea why the guy ran, just because he thought we were going to shoot and punch and kick him for no reason. You just kicked him and punched him and shot him for no reason other than he was trying to avoid getting kicked and punched and shot for no reason! You don’t think that’s a good enough reason for people to run when they see you coming?

              And by the way – Ed, you’re an asshole for putting in the headline that the cops were terminated when what you meant was they were fired – some of us were hoping they would get terminated-terminated.

              1. No, it’s not a good enough reason, because your odds of getting shot vastly increase when you fight or flee. Yes, even freezing and following orders may not save you. Similarly, not smoking doesn’t necessarily save you from lung cancer, but you have to go with the odds.

                1. And the odds of a suspect fleeing vastly increase when 3 guys in ski masks or some big dude covered in tattoos jump out of an unmarked vehicle and run towards them pointing a gun.

                  But the police steadfastly refuse to hear any criticism of the way they do things, bringing up the ‘officer safety’ and ‘do you WANT cops to die’ by denying them their ‘This is not a tanks’

                  We can’t even begin to form questions about whether this is the best way to do things since they also resist keeping records of anything other than how many times a “suspect” ‘fixes an officer with a dehumanizing stare causing them to fear they would be attacked’

                  Another poster pointed out how the situation is a self reinforcing spiral, but when an unconscious man can be beaten for ‘resisting’ I think we need to start our reforms on the side of the assholes doing the beating.

          2. Above you seemed to imply that trying to get away from the cops is stupid, but if “people should treat them as dangerous” I would think trying to get away from them would be prudent and smart.

            Maybe the stupid part was thinking they could get away from them. It would have been far smarter to just kill themselves and save the cops the time and hassle of chasing them down and summarily executing them.

            1. Grizzly bears are dangerous, but that doesn’t mean the best thing to do when you encounter one is to run away, because their instinct is to then chase you. Same with cops.

              1. Bears, cops… about the same amount of critical thinking skills.

                1. Bears have better impulse control.

              2. FWIW, you’re probably right: submitting like a little bitch does greatly increase your odds of survival. The problem is some people have pride. You have to fight through that shit.

                1. 1. Discretion is the better part of valor.

                  2. Pick your battles.

                  3. Don’t fight your opponent on turf where they have the advantage.

      2. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

        Also, known as Tuesday in Papayaworld.

        Fabulous prizes await you!

        1. The prize in my world is that without any change in the makeup or training of police forces, people’s risk of getting shot by cops is minuscule. It’s amazing, really.

          1. Don’t forget the faux superiority through sneering. It’s your most endearing quality.

            1. My simple, obvious strategy prevents my car from being riddled with police bullets. That does make me superior to the late Timothy Russell.

              JW, some people deserve to be sneered at. I don’t mean you or anyone here, I mean the violent morons who regularly do Darwin Award stuff and die as a result. I consider well-deserved mockery an important social tool. Not everything should be enforced by law, as we all know. We have things like customs and manners and folk wisdom and so on, that are useful for guiding people away from bad behaviors, and toward better ones.

              I realize that people are concerned with police abuse, and that is a legitimate concern. But a lot of it happens because people do stupid and violent things, which give opportunities for police abuse. It’s analogous to an “attractive nuisance.” If you have an unfenced and unwatched swimming pool, and some neighborhood kid sneaks in and drowns, you have some degree of responsibility. Well, if you do something really stupid that causes the police to chase you and be abusive, you are doing the equivalent. It may not be entirely your fault, but you have contributed to the result.

              So, I think mocking the stupid and violent is part of the solution to police abuse. The more the stupid and violent know they will be mocked, the better. It’s not just me being cynical and getting my jollies online (though it’s partly that).

    2. Listen, if you don’t want to be treated like a thug, then don’t make your car sound like a thug car, thuglover.

      1. The cops didn’t shoot them because of a backfire, they shot them after a backfire and a 22 minute, high-speed chase. I think the high-speed chase had something to do with it, don’t you?

        Now, maybe I’m just a Midwestern white-bread suburban guy, but it seems like common sense to me that if police approach me for any reason, good or bad, I don’t run, I don’t fight, I don’t make suspicious moves. They don’t know who the hell I am, they have guns, and they might be trigger-happy. Anyone doing stupid things with police risks this sort of thing.

        I have total sympathy for people who have done nothing wrong and get abused by police. E.g. someone asleep at home, and the SWAT team bursts through the wrong door. But if the point of all this concern is to reduce unneeded deaths and injuries at the hands of the police, well, there are two sides where behavior changes will help. And one side, which lots of libertarians have a hard time grasping for some reason, is the not-the-police side. Not doing stupid and dangerous things vastly reduces your chances of getting shot by cops.

        1. OBEY.

          1. 1. Discretion is the better part of valor.

            2. Pick your battles.

            3. Don’t fight your opponent on turf where they have the advantage.

        2. Running away from the cops isn’t dangerous until the cops start chasing you and unloading hundreds of rounds in your direction.

          1. It’s dangerous because it causes cops to chase you.

          2. Forget it, Hugh. It’s circular reasoning is bulletproof.

            1. Please explain how this is “circular reasoning.” Saying: “Don’t do things that cause police to chase you and shoot at you” is not at all circular.

        3. Now, maybe I’m just a Midwestern white-bread suburban guy, but it seems like common sense to me that if police approach me for any reason, good or bad, I don’t run, I don’t fight, I don’t make suspicious moves.

          I think I see the problem here. My guess is as a Midwestern white-bread suburban guy, your only experience with cops are with the cops who only have experience with Midwestern white-bread suburban guys. I suspect if you were a black guy in Cleveland your “common sense” might tell you not running and not fighting and not making any suspicious moves ain’t gonna help you any.

          1. That would only be true if the streets were filled with dead black guys who were shot down by police for no reason. #BLM notwithstanding, that is not the case. A large percentage, if not a majority, of the cases discussed here over the years happened because someone fought with the police, or ran from them, or waved a realistic-looking fake gun at people, or did something similarly stupid.

            There’s the recent SF case of Mario Woods, who slashed someone with a knife, got cornered by police, would not drop the knife, took 3-4 beanbag rounds to no effect, and only then got shot. Of course the liberals in town clutched their pearls, and Mom is suing for millions, but come on.

            1. “That would only be true if the streets were filled with dead black guys who were shot down by police for no reason.”

              Certainly isn’t happening, is it, Midwestern white-bread suburban guy? Afterall, your life experiences are completely the same as a black urban impoverished guy.

              1. To be fair thuggish police behavior very seldom results in injury or death, so unless you have to live with it all you have to go on are the rare cases where someone is paralyzed, killed, or a baby takes a grenade to the face and we hear about it on the news.
                That makes it pretty easy to think it’s rare and also to be fair the cops can usually rustle up a bucket of shit to smear on the recipient.
                I had a conversation with my father where he pointed out that in the case we were discussing while he agreed the cops went to far in that case the guy had a previous arrest for felony assault – thus ‘he was no angel’
                I pointed out that he loves to tell stories of his youth when a typical night down at D’s Bar in Dillard, G.A. would end up with a good old fashioned fight complete with broken chairs.
                Well, there but for the grace…or it’s not a crime if you don’t get caught.
                Oh well.

              2. Not according to the stats, it’s not. A few hundred blacks a year killed by police out of maybe 46 million is hardly a genocide. And a large percentage of those were Darwin Award types.

                Yeah, my life experience is different: I don’t do that sort of stupid stuff. (I do stupid things, but little to nothing that increases my odds of getting shot by cops.)

    3. Well, surprise, surprise.

      Russell, who would have turned 44 next Sunday, had a history of theft offenses, violent crime and, on two previous occasions, fleeing police ? all since 1997.

      He was found guilty of domestic violence in Summit County, had three convictions for receiving stolen property, one in Summit County and two in Cuyahoga. Russell also had four robbery convictions: Ohio law recognizes robbery as any theft offense involving force or threat of force.

      One of the stolen-property offenses also carried a felony failure-to-comply charge, in Cuyahoga County in 2008. He also was found guilty of misdemeanor failure to comply in Mentor Municipal Court earlier this year.


      Malissa Williams, the other occupant of the car, had five drug-related convictions in Cuyahoga county between 2004 and 2008. During that time she was also charged with rape and attempted abduction. The rape charge was dropped when she pleaded guilty to the lesser attempted abduction count. The on-line record does not carry details of that case.

      Stupid and violent.

      1. tl;dr: He deserved it for his past crimes.

        Christ. You’re worse than Tulpa in this thread, Papaya. And that shouldn’t be possible.

        1. There’s a difference between saying: “He contributed to his own fate” and saying: “He deserved it.”

          Think about it.

  3. Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association is OUTRAGED and vowed to get these poor officers’ jobs back. And maybe award them each a medal for bravery too.

  4. So, we’re not done with the union appeals and all that, are we?

    If not, its a little premature to say they were fired. Recommended for firing and suspended without pay pending union sign-off might be more accurate.

    1. Keyword “terminated”. It’s easy for a department to terminate the cop.

      Arbitration is a whole other ballgame.

  5. inb4 “An arbitration judge has ruled that the city must rehire the fired officers, along with back pay (including overtime)”

  6. Oh you mean ‘fired’. Bit of a disappointment from my original interpretation but still good.

  7. Thank god* all of these brave officers were able to go home at the end of the day. Cause that’s what really matters here.

    *or is that dog, with my dyslexia I can never get it straight.

  8. I feel so let down.

  9. shooting in a matter that put other officers at risk of crossfire

    Weird. We don’t have a rule at my office that says I can’t swing a keyboard in a manner that puts other employees at risk but somehow we all manage to pull it off day in and day out.

  10. Firings and suspensions?

    Whoo! I bet they learned their lesson!

    1. Remember, being a cop isn’t just a job to these ‘roid monkeys, it’s a way of life. Take that away, and they’ve got nothing left. For them, not getting to get their authoritah boner on is a fate worse than death. Hopefully, if the firings stick and the union doesn’t get them their jobs back, at least some of them become an heroes.

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