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US Officer Not Guilty in Killing Unarmed Pair

US Officer Not Guilty in Killing Unarmed PairUS Officer Not Guilty in Killing Unarmed Pair

A white Cleveland police officer who climbed onto the hood of a car and fired dozens of rounds at an unarmed black couple in 2012 was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter. The decision was followed by street protests in which at least 71 people were arrested.

The verdict comes amid widespread tensions in the United States over police treatment of blacks following the deaths of a number of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement, AFP reported.

Just a month ago, riots erupted in Baltimore over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Six officers have been charged.

Cleveland patrolman Michael Brelo, 31, was one of 13 officers who opened fire on Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams during a police chase on November 29, 2012.

The couple’s car had backfired as it drove past Cleveland police headquarters, and police thought the sound was a gunshot. A total of 137 rounds were fired at the car, including 49 by Brelo. He shot the final 15 from the hood of Russell’s Chevrolet Malibu.

Judge John O’Donnell found Brelo not guilty of two charges of voluntary manslaughter and also acquitted him of felonious assault.

O’Donnell said Brelo fired two shots that could have killed Williams and one shot that could have killed Russell, but the evidence did not meet the standard for voluntary manslaughter.

“Proof of voluntary manslaughter requires finding beyond a reasonable doubt,” the judge said. Brelo broke down in tears after the verdict was read out.

 

Financialtribune.com