Former Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo will remain fired after his role in the November 2012 police shooting that ended in the killing of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams with a barrage of 137 bullets, but 5 other officers will get their jobs back.
Arbitrator William Heekin ruled that Brelo should remain fired and that five other officers who were fired should get their jobs back, without back pay. Heekin also upheld the suspension of six other officers involved in the chase, reported Cleveland.com.
The arbitrator did not refute the claims against the fired officers, he simply stated that the officers had been good officers before the incident, quoting from a supervisor who spoke on the officer’s behalf.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement he is pleased the arbitrator ruled Brelo should remain off the force.
“We are pleased that the arbitrator confirmed the severity of the violations committed by the officers and that he upheld the termination of Officer Brelo and that he upheld the lengthy suspensions for the six officers who the City had not terminated,” the statement said.
Jackson was disappointed with the reinstatement of officers Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik and Michael Farley and detectives Christopher Ereg and Erin O’Donnell.
“We believe that the City’s decision to terminate the other five officers was justified and should have been upheld,” Jackson’s statement says. “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.”
The six officers involved in the shooting took their cases to arbitration in October.
“It was a difficult case for both sides and a gratifying outcome,” D’Angelo said. “We realize we didn’t prevail in everything that we were seeking but we saved the career of five fine officers.”
Heekin upheld Brelo’s firing because of the “egregious” nature of his crime, including firing 49 shots into the car, 15-18 of which were after he jumped on top of the hood of Russell’s car when Russell and Williams posed no threat.
“Indeed Officer Brelo never offered a reason or an explanation for these actions,” Heekin wrote. “Accordingly and upon finding that this clearly constituted an excessive use of deadly force, the contention of the City that it amounted to egregious misconduct where as a result the City no longer has trust and confidence in his ability to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a police officer is accepted.”
As usually happens when officers kill people, a Cuyahoga County judge acquitted Brelo of all charges in the criminal case. However, the city did fire Brelo and the five other officers over the incident.
Brelo was acquitted in May 2015 of two counts of voluntary manslaughter. The acquittal resulted in days of mostly peaceful demonstrations where about 70 people arrested for their opposition to cops killing people and not being punished.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)