Cleveland police officer’s acquittal sets off protests

The acquittal of a policeman in the shooting deaths of two unarmed people set off angry protests in Cleveland

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Protests broke out after a white Cleveland police officer was found not guilty on Saturday in the shooting deaths of an unarmed black man and woman after a high-speed car chase in 2012.

Soon after the verdict, a small crowd of demonstrators took to the streets and held peaceful protests outside the courthouse. Police in riot gear patrolled and blocked furious protesters from going inside.

The crowd chanted “No justice, no peace” and carried signs “Will I be next?”

Michael Brelo (31) was charged with the deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, as he fired 15 rounds into their windshield standing on the hood of their car after it stopped following a police chase.

Judge John O’Donnell said officer Brelo, who was among a group of officers who fired on the car, acted reasonably in shooting the two people while standing on the hood of their surrounded car, firing multiple rounds through the windshield.

The trial is taking place as a series of cases raise questions over police conduct and the US law enforcement’s use of lethal force against minority groups.

Several of the well-known cases include the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City and most recently Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland.

"Brelo was acting in conditions difficult for even experienced officers to imagine," the judge said while reading the verdict.

"He was in a strange place at night surrounded by gunfire, sirens and flashing bulbs. Brelo did not fire too quickly or at a person who was clearly unarmed or unable to run him over," he added.

TRTWorld and agencies