Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cleveland Cop Gets Off

Update: After letting off one of their killer cops for participating in the fusillade that killed two unarmed blacks in a car, the Cleveland police settled with the US Justice Department and agreed to abide by strict regulations for the use of force. Justice officials called Cleveland's law enforcement flawed by a "pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force". Justice found that Cleveland cops used stun guns inappropropriately, shot at innocent civilians, and beat unarmed suspects. The new rules prohibit Cleveland police from even unholstering their weapon unless there is a reasonable belief lethal force may become necessary. Every time a weapon is drawn the incident must be documented. There is nothing cops hate more than paperwork. Nor can they pistol-whip a suspect (that prohibition speaks volumes), fire 'warning shots', or use neck holds. An independent monitor will be established to document Cleveland's progress towards community policing and away from its paramilitary assaults on citizens.

{24.05.15}In a demonstration of how the American criminal justice system can be manipulated to serve the state, a white male judge found Cleveland cop Michael Brelo not guilty of two counts of manslaughter. The reason: lack of evidence of causation beyond reasonable doubt. Unpacking the legal terminology means that the state did not prove Brelo, who fired 15 rounds into the windshield of Chevy Malibu after he climbed onto the hood of the stopped vehicle, actually hit and killed the two unarmed black occupants beyond a reasonable doubt. Involuntary manslaughter may be committed when legal acts that are inherently dangerous--such as discharging a weapon without sufficient justification--result in the victim's death.

Timothy Russell's Malibu came to a stop after a high-speed chase across the city. The car was surrounded by 13 Cleveland cops who opened fire without ordering the driver and his passenger out of the vehicle. 137 bullets were fired into the car, thus the problem with causation. Brelo, however, was the only cop who climbed onto the car's hood and shot 15 more times at close range after the threat to public safety was over. It strains credulity to conclude none of the seven-year veteran's close-range shots hit the two people in the front seat. The judge used conflicting forensic testimony to justify his fastidious conclusion that multiple officers could have fired fatal shots; sometimes logic trumps common sense. In this case the cop's defenders made a shrewd decision to have Brelo's guilt determined by a white city judge, not a mixed-race jury (city of Cleveland is 65% non-white). The other officers involved in the melee face misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty; no trial dates have been set. Cleveland was relatively calm after the astonishing verdict was announced.