Cop’s Defense For Standing On Hood Of Car And Shooting Two People To Death: I Don’t Remember

The trial for an officer involved in a 2012 police shooting that left two unarmed suspects dead is finally underway, and his defense couldn’t be more bizarre: He can’t be held responsible for his actions because he can’t remember them. How convenient.

Officer Michael Brelo of Cleveland’s police department has been charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter. He is hoping to avoid punishment by proving to the court that he was so scared that he wasn’t responsible for his actions. A judge might find that defense hard to believe, because the officer’s actions on that day were so ludicrous that nobody else who witnessed them seems to have any trouble recalling what happened.

According to reports, a traffic stop led to a high speed chase when suspects Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams fled from the scene. Making matters worse, their car backfired, which gave officers the false impression that they had fired a gun. In fact, both were unarmed. After the situation escalated into a chase involving 60 police cruisers and over one hundred officers, the pair were pinned into a school parking lot. Their car disabled, it looked as if things were coming to an end. Instead, an unidentified officer began firing at the car, leading to a cascade of fellow cops joining in.

It gets worse.

By all accounts (with the notable exception of Brelo’s), what happened next was not standard procedure, and most definitely unwarranted. After the group of officers came to their senses and stopped firing (again, no shots were fired back at them, the pair were unarmed), officers watched in disbelief as Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the suspect’s car and began firing pointblank into the windshield. The two inside were killed in the hail of bullets that Brelo took upon himself to fire.


In all, the group of police fired nearly 100 rounds that struck the car, and Russell and Williams were each struck by upwards of 20 bullets. Brelo is the only one to be charged, however, because in the early chaos of the chase, officers say they had reason to believe their lives were in danger. When Brelo jumped on the hood of the car and decided – unilaterally – to execute the people within, the danger was clearly over. Russell and Williams should have, at that point, been receiving medical attention, not additional gunshots.

Brelo now claims he doesn’t remember jumping on the hood (witnesses and forensics proves he did), but admits “it’s possible.”

According to Cleveland’s fox affiliate:

“It’s possible,” Brelo allowed when questioned by investigators two weeks after the November 2012 shooting, “because I was so terrified that I was going to get run over.”

“But I don’t recall that, sir.”

It’s more than possible, and it’s likely that Brelo knows that, too. According to another officer, Brelo openly admitted that he had jumped on the hood and opened fire days after the shooting. If he could remember it a few days later, it’s hard to believe that kind of thing wouldn’t stick with him for the rest of his life.

Brelo is facing 25 years in prison if convicted. The Cleveland Police Department, meanwhile, has done little to ensure this sort of “accident” doesn’t happen again. The same department would see several of their officers shoot and kill a child holding a toy gun just two years later. Unlike Brelo, neither of the officers involved will face charges.

Feature image via Office of the Ohio Attorney General