CLEVELAND (AP) — A white patrolman found not guilty in the fatal shooting of two unarmed black suspects in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor assault after what has been described as an alcohol-fueled fight with his twin brother four days after his acquittal.
Criminal complaints filed in a suburban Cleveland municipal court said 31-year-old Michael Brelo and his brother, Mark, had visible injuries after their fight May 27 in Bay Village. Both were released after reporting to police, and they are scheduled to appear in court June 10.
A statement from Bay Village police said police were called by a resident at around 4:30 a.m. after Mark Brelo knocked on her door and asked her to call police. Officers questioned the brothers and determined they had fought after a night of drinking at Michael Brelo’s home, police said. A disorderly conduct citation said Mark Brelo was wearing only cargo shorts while carrying one shoe when he began knocking on residents’ doors.
Michael Brelo was acquitted by a judge May 23 on voluntary manslaughter charges in the November 2012 shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after Russell’s beat-up car backfired outside police headquarters, prompting a high-speed chase with officers who mistook the sound for gunfire. Brelo was accused of firing the final 15 shots of the barrage while standing on the hood of Russell’s car.
The judge said that while prosecutors couldn’t prove Michael Brelo fired the fatal rounds, it didn’t matter because all 49 shots Brelo fired that night were legally justified given that he was trying to end a threat to his and other officers’ lives.
Brelo remains on an unpaid suspension and is expected to face administrative discipline. A Cleveland Police Department spokesman said officials are aware of the new charge and the department’s integrity control unit will be monitoring the case.
In a statement, the Bay Village police chief said Wednesday that the assault charges were “made independent of the recent criminal court case involving Michael Brelo.”
His acquittal prompted numerous, peaceful protests throughout Cleveland. More than 70 people were arrested the evening of May 23 after failing to heed police orders to disburse while gathering near popular downtown entertainment districts.
It’s unclear if the brothers have attorneys who can comment on this case. Messages seeking comment were left with Michael Brelo’s attorneys in the voluntary manslaughter case.