Officers Fired After Cleveland Shooting

Cleveland officials said Tuesday they’re terminating six police officers who fired during a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed people after a high-speed chase.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the fired officers include Patrolman Michael Brelo, who was acquitted of manslaughter charges in May for having fired the last 15 shots of the barrage in East Cleveland on Nov. 29, 2012. City officials didn’t identify officers by name during the announcement, but promised to release documentation about the discipline.

Six more officers who fired during the barrage face suspensions ranging from 21 to 30 days, said Public Safety Director Michael McGrath, the former police chief. A total of 13 officers had been notified that they faced administrative discipline, and one of them has retired, McGrath said.

Officers fired at a car after a high-speed chase involving 62 police cruisers and more than 100 officers. The commotion began after officers mistook the sound of a beat-up vehicle backfiring as a gunshot.

The car’s occupants were killed. Timothy Russell was hit by 24 shots, Malissa Williams by 23.

The officers were cited after leaving the city without permission to join a chase. Some were cited for endangering other officers when they created a crossfire situation.

Brelo is the only officer facing criminal charges. According to prosecutors, he stood on the vehicle’s hood and fired repeatedly after the car had stopped. Its occupants were no longer a threat.

The shooting came right before a Justice Department investigation that found Cleveland police to have engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and violating people’s civil rights. The city reached an agreement with the department to make changes overseen by an independent monitor.