Home / National News / Report: Cleveland Reaches Settlement with DOJ over 'Excessive Force'


(CLEVELAND) — The city of Cleveland has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over charges of police brutality, according to The New York Times.

The news comes as hundreds took to the streets to protest a judge’s decision not to convict a white police officer in the 2012 fatal shootings of an unarmed black couple. On Saturday, Officer Michael Brelo was cleared in the killing of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, as they sat in their car.

“It’s a tragedy because no one is being held accountable,” Michelle Russell, Timothy Russell’s sister, said Saturday.

The settlement, the details of which were unknown, could be announced Tuesday, according to The Times. In December, Attorney General Eric Holder said there was reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Division of Police engaged in a pattern of excessive force.

After an investigation of nearly 600 “troubling, high-profile use of force incidents” between 2010 and 2013, “we determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland division of public police engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force,” Holder said in December.

ABC News’ calls to city officials, including the mayor’s office and the police department, were not returned.

Prosecutors said Brelo, 31, was one of 13 officers who fired 137 times into the couple’s car in the November 2012 shooting. The 22-mile, high-speed chase through Cleveland began when an officer tried pulling over Timony Russell for a turn signal violation. His car backfired while speeding away, causing officers to think someone in the car had fired a gun.

At the end of the chase, Brelo stood on the car’s hood when it was stopped and shot 15 times into the windshield, said prosecutors. Brelo told the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation that he thought he and his partner were being shot at. Russell and Williams were each shot more than 20 times.

No gun was ever found in the car. Brelo was the only officer charged criminally because prosecutors said he had intended to kill the couple, alleging that he’d reloaded during the shooting barrage and that it was his final salvo that killed the couple. On Saturday, the judge ruled that Brelo’s use of deadly force was constitutionally reasonable based on how the events unfolded.

Protests, mostly peaceful, quickly followed the acquittal. Cleveland police made 71 arrests during Saturday’s demonstrations, Chief Calvin Williams said during a news conference Sunday. Of those arrests, the majority were arraigned on misdemeanor charges and released from jail. Three who were wanted on unrelated felony charges are still being held.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich praised the people of Cleveland, calling its residents a “model” in their response to the judge’s ruling.

Community leaders said on Sunday, however, that they were growing anxious as they awaited the results into the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The youth was fatally shot by police officers on Nov. 22 while he was holding a toy gun in a Cleveland playground. Earlier this month, the sheriff leading the investigation said that “the majority of our work is complete.”

“Obviously, there are concerns,” said the Rev. Jawanza Colvin of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. “A simmering pot is only a few degrees from boiling. … What I’m concerned about is what we do in between the Brelo case and the Tamir Rice investigation. We need to be focused on reforms.”

There is no word yet on when the Tamir Rice decision will be announced.

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