Tensions are running high days before the start of the bench trial for Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo.
Brelo is accused of voluntary manslaughter after the November 2012 deadly police chase and shooting.
137 shots were fired during that chase that claimed the lives of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell. Brelo fired 49 shots.
On Tuesday, March 31, Prosecutor Tim McGinty filed a series of motions claiming that Cleveland officers had been uncooperative with trial preparations.
McGinty said the
(CPPA) has shown a "continued pattern" to "impede and hinder the investigation and prosecution."
"All his motions have been ridiculous to this point," said Steve Loomis, President of the CPPA.
Loomis says his officers will be there to testify, but they have no legal obligations to meet with McGinty beforehand, "Tim McGinty is a goldfish swimming around in a piranha bowl. And now the onus is on him. Prove your case or sit down and shut up," said Loomis.
Friday, McGinty released this statement:
The trial in State of Ohio v. Michael Brelo begins at 9 a.m. Monday.
But before we start, I feel obligated to set the record straight in light of continuous inflammatory and inaccurate statements to the media by representatives of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association regarding the investigation in this case and the current criminal proceedings where a Cleveland police patrol officer and union member is charged with manslaughter and his supervisors who led the chase are charged with dereliction of duty.
Union presidents past and present have told reporters that their members had fully cooperated with the investigation of the events that ended with two innocent and unarmed victims shot to death in the Heritage Middle School parking lot.
Their union attorney, who is still lead counsel for the defendant, has admitted advising officers involved in the shooting— who were key witnesses to Officer Brelo's actions — to assert their Fifth Amendment rights before the Grand Jury.
Refusing to testify in a Grand Jury investigation is not cooperating.
And most of these officers still refuse to assist the prosecution in any way in the case against their fellow officer. Just today, two of these officers filed motions to evade testifying at trial and invoke the Fifth Amendment.
A police officer who has taken an oath to protect and serve this city is not doing his duty when he refuses to testify and give evidence or when he pleads the Fifth Amendment during a criminal investigation into the actions by an on-duty police officer. No ordinary citizen has a right to do that in cases involving their friends or associates – and neither do police officers.
We hope the officers will reconsider their claims to be exempt from their duty to testify just like any other citizen. Full cooperation by police in this case is vital to ensuring justice is achieved in this double homicide.
Do not lose sight of what this case involves: On November 29, 2012, following a 20-mile, 23-minute chase, Timothy Russell and his innocent passenger Malissa Williams were trapped in an isolated parking lot with no chance of escape. That's when defendant Officer Brelo jumped on the hood of victim Russell's car and unjustifiably emptied his weapon downward through the windshield and into his unarmed and helpless victims.
We ask the police involved to recall the oath they took when they became police officers and to remember that it is their duty to tell the court at trial what they saw and heard – just as any other citizen is expected to do – so that the judge can determine the facts and apply the laws of our state and the nation. There's still time to do what is right.