Six Cleveland cops have been charged in a deadly police chase and shooting which left two dead in a hail of bullets in 2012.
Patrolman Michael Brelo faces two counts of voluntary manslaughter while five other officers are accused of dereliction of duty. This case is somewhat unique according to an attorney for one of the victim's relatives, because prosecutors rarely indict an officer for manslaughter in an excessive force case, reports The Plain Dealer.
What do these charges mean for the accused officers?
Grand Jury Indictment
A grand jury indicted the six officers Friday for their roles in the 2012 incident -- a 23-minute chase through city streets that ended when 13 officers fired 137 shots at the car they'd been pursuing. Brelo himself fired 49 of those shots, the Plain Dealer reports.
A grand jury, like the one in this case, is assembled to hear evidence and witnesses to support prosecutors charging the suspects with a crime. After jurors believe they have enough evidence, they may issue a criminal indictment, finding that there is enough probable cause to believe that the suspect in question committed the alleged crime.
With indictments being issued for these six Ohio officers, the next steps for them are a number of pretrial conferences, jury selection, and then a trial. At any point, any of the defendants have the option to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution, taking a reduced sentence by pleading guilty and avoiding a trial.
Voluntary Manslaughter Charge
Brelo alone is charged with voluntary manslaughter of the two unarmed victims, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, as well as an enhancement for using a firearm while committing the alleged offense. In Ohio, voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony, punishable by three to 11 years in prison.
Voluntary manslaughter is distinguished from murder because the suspect is assumed to have intentionally killed the victim(s) under a sudden passion or sudden fit of rage. Brelo is accused of firing fatal shots at the victims at close range after his fellow officers ceased firing at the victim's car.
Various authorities have blamed departmental leadership and lack of training for this incident, which may explain the charges against the five officers who allegedly failed to supervise or control Brelo.
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