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.