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Attorney: Officer Feared For Life In Deadly 137-Shot Barrage

Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams
Cleveland Police Department

An attorney for a Cleveland police officer charged in the deaths of two unarmed suspects says the 13 officers who fired at a beat-up car after a high-speed chase in November 2012 feared for their lives when they fired 137 rounds at the vehicle.

The attorney said during opening arguments that 31-year-old Michael Brelo’s tactics could be questioned, but his justification for having fired 15 shots from the hood of the suspects’ car was to eliminate a threat to his and other officers’ lives.

Brelo’s trial began Monday on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of 43-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Williams. A judge, not a jury, will decide the charges.

Prosecutors argued that Brelo was enraged when he fired into the windshield.