Police Abuse

Cleveland Cops in Car Chase That Killed Two Get Their Jobs Back

Pursuit started when cops mistook engine backfire for a gun shot

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CDP

Five Cleveland police officers have gotten their jobs back. The arbitrator who reinstated them did not dispute the irresponsible behavior that had led them to be fired from the force, but he decided the officers had been "good cops" before the incident and therefore should not have their careers ruined.

The incident involved a 23-minute-long chase in 2012 that began when some cops misidentified the backfire from a car's engine as gun shots. (No gun or contraband was found in or near the vehicle.) Sixty-two marked and unmarked police vehicles joined the pursuit, which ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds into the car. The driver, Timothy Russell, and his passenger, Malissa Williams, were both killed.

Sixty-three cops were suspended, for a maximum suspension of 10 days. Of the 13 officers directly involved in the shooting at the end of the chase, six were fired and five were suspended for 21 days. Only one, Michael Brelo, faced criminal charges. He fired 49 rounds into the car, including at least 15 after Russell and Williams were "no longer a threat." At one point, he jumped on the hood of the vehicle to keep shooting. He was acquitted after a judge decided he could not determine whether Brelo was the only one who fatally shot Russell and Williams.

Brelo was the only of the fired cops who did not get his job back.

It's unclear whether the City of Cleveland will challenge the arbitrator's decision, although the mayor has expressed disappointment in it. "We believe that the City's decision to terminate the other five officers was justified and should have been upheld," he said in a statement. "We acknowledge that the arbitrator concluded that those officers committed serious policy violations; however, we are reviewing our options regarding the officers whose terminations were not upheld."

What's clear is that this kind of arrangement is untenable. Police reform will be unachievable as long as a city's elected leadership is not the final arbiter on disciplining and dismissing police officers.

Police misbehavior will continue as long as union contracts and laws like the "Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights" make the police a privileged class. Getting rid of those protections is not sufficient on its own to reduce police violence, but real change will be impossible unless that reform happens first.

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  1. What’s it take to be an arbitrator?

    1. It actually takes 2 things. 1, endless optimism. 2, complete insulation from your decisions’ repurcussions.

  2. “He was acquitted after a judge decided he could not determine whether Brelo was the only one who fatally shot Russell and Williams.”

    I can’t remember; isn’t that how “Murder on the Orient Express” ended?

    1. Marty: What happened to Stumpy Joe?
      Derek: Well, uh, it’s not a very pleasant story…but, uh, he died…uh…he choked on…the ac- the official explanation was he choked on vomit.
      David: He passed away.
      Nigel: It was actually, was actually someone else’s vomit. It’s not….
      David: It’s ugly.
      Nigel: You know. There’s no real….
      Derek: You know they can’t prove whose vomit it was…they don’t have the facilities at Scotland Yard….
      David: You can’t print, there’s no way to print a spectra-photograph…
      Nigel: You can’t really dust for vomit.

    2. Isn’t that like how firing squads used to work? Everybody gets a round, but only one has a bullet in it so no one knows who actually did the murdering?

      1. Close; one blank, the rest live rounds.
        Interestingly enough, when an “automatic firing squad” was invented, the intention was to still have one blank.
        (see Andriza Mircovich, deceased.)

  3. The incident involved a 23-minute-long chase in 2012 that began when some cops misidentified the backfire from a car’s engine as gun shots. Sixty-two marked and unmarked police vehicles joined the pursuit, which ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds into the car.

    “Reasonable mistake of law.”

    1. Dispatch called off the chase numerous times. I think that the patrol captain on duty did as well.

    2. I’m more afraid of the cops.

  4. How does one arbitrate between the people’s representatives and the employees they supervise?

    If there’s a strictly legal claim against a firing, the courts are open.

    But apparently, arbitrators are asked to make policy, not legal, decisions. Not “was the firing legal” but “would firing this cop be appropriate public policy”?

    Public policy should be made by the elected representatives of the people. In fact, it’s in the U. S. Constitution’s republican form of government clause.

    1. All those prog activists who want to forbid arbitration clauses in consumer contracts – they should reserve some of their energy for banning arbitration agreements between the elected representatives of the people and the employees they supervise.

      1. For that matter, ban public-employee unions altogether. The ballot is open to government employees, let them express their grievances there.

  5. The incident involved a 23-minute-long chase in 2012 that began when some cops misidentified the backfire from a car’s engine as gun shots. Sixty-two marked and unmarked police vehicles joined the pursuit, which ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds into the car.

    “The incident involved a 23-minute-long chase in 2012 that began when some cops misidentified the exhaust from a car’s engine as marijuana smoke. Sixty-two marked and unmarked police vehicles joined the pursuit, which ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds into the car.”

    “The incident involved a 23-minute-long chase in 2012 that began when some cops misidentified a car’s paint job as racist graffiti. Sixty-two marked and unmarked police vehicles joined the pursuit, which ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds into the car.”

    1. “… misidentified two small, Asian females as one large, black male…”

      1. Hispanic rather than Asian, but point taken: http://articles.latimes.com/20…..g-20130724

  6. Naturally, one suspects that the so-called NFL players from the Cleveland Browns are…right this minute…taking a knee in the Mayor’s office and demanding justice.

    1. I fear they’ll let us down again.

    2. “The incident involved a 23-minute-long chase in 2017 that began when some cops misidentified NFL players taking a knee as gun shots.”

    3. The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team?
      Would’ve fooled me.

  7. Trying to remember if I predicted this one.

    No matter, so allow me to say it anyway, “Ow, my balls!”

  8. It’s unclear whether the City of Cleveland will challenge the arbitrator’s decision, although the mayor has expressed disappointment in it.

    Well, Mr. Mayor, maybe you need to rethink your collective bargaining agreement with the police union.

    1. Think how far crime rates would drop of the cops went on strike!

  9. RE: Cleveland Cops in Car Chase That Killed Two Get Their Jobs Back
    Pursuit started when cops mistook engine backfire for a gun shot

    Oh thank God these cops got their jobs back.
    Firing them for misconduct might set a dangerous precedent.

  10. “The car was cited for violating the noise ordinance and for filling a false police report.”

  11. Wait a minute!

    The arbitrator who reinstated them did not dispute the irresponsible behavior that had led them to be fired from the force, but he decided the officers had been “good cops” before the incident and therefore should not have their careers ruined.

    Every crook ever convicted was “a law abiding citizen” until he committed his first crime. So they should not have their lives ruined, right?

    1. RIGHT!! Maybe there’ll be a mostly-peaceful protest about this.

    2. Shucks. Steven Paddock was a good mild-mannered accountant before the Mandalay Bay protest against the 2nd Amendment. Had he survived it’d be a shame to ruin his career over a single incident.

    3. Shucks. Steven Paddock was a good mild-mannered accountant before the Mandalay Bay protest against the 2nd Amendment. Had he survived it’d be a shame to ruin his career over a single incident.

  12. bleh lives matter

  13. So, no murder charges then?

  14. Fired offissa Brelo managed to successfully join the Army after walking into the Shrink’s office and jumping up and down on his desk hollerin’ “KILL! KILL! KILL!” They even pinned a medal on his chest when they found out he’d done the same on the car hood.

    1. If that’s your perception of the Army, you can go fuck yourself. Or better yet, go down to the VFW and regale the folks there with your wit. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  15. Yeah, yeah, what’s the address and social security number of “union contracts and laws like blah blah blah that make the police a privileged class”? Hip, weak, magical-thinking-libertarian speak.

  16. Well I’ve been through these comments so far and I see pride in predjustice hiding in satire; not reasonable at all…

    1. not reasonable at all…

      Ahem. Everybody, drink!

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