Cleveland Cop Verdict: Multiple Arrests as Protests Continue Into Evening

Most demonstrations have been peaceful, city officials say.

May 23, 2015, 10:34 PM

— -- Largely peaceful demonstrations following the acquittal of a Cleveland police officer in the killing of an unarmed couple continued this evening, as some groups of people turned more rowdy and police said there were multiple arrests.

A spokesman for the mayor's office said it was not clear how many of the arrests were directly related to the protests and how many were people "being a nuisance."

"We are trying to sort that out," said Dan Williams, a spokesman for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

Michael Brelo was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter and a lesser charge of felonious assault in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. He was visibly emotional as Cuyahoga County Judge John O'Donnell read a portion of his verdict in open court.

Prosecutors said Brelo, 31, was one of 13 officers who fired 137 times into the couple's car in the November 2012 shooting. The 22-mile, high-speed chase through Cleveland began when an officer tried pulling over Russell for a turn signal violation. His car backfired while speeding away, causing officers to think someone in the car had fired a gun.

PHOTO: Michael Brelo weeps as he hears the verdict in his trial Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland.
Michael Brelo weeps as he hears the verdict in his trial Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak/AP Photo

Among those arrested was a man was charged with assault after he allegedly injured a patron at Harry Buffalo's on East Fourth Street when he threw an obect through the window, police said.

After a day in which peaceful demonstrators carried signs and chanted after the handed down a not guilty verdict, police reported that some protesters were turning "disruptive."

Protests began immediately after the verdict, with demonstrators outside the courthouse chanting "Hands up! Don't shoot!" -- a rallying cry linked to the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Sheriff's deputies stood outside the courthouse carrying shields, blocking the demonstrators from entering.

In a demonstration that had already been planned to mark six months since the killing of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old carrying a pellet gun who was shot by a white rookie officer, about 200 people walked in a mock funeral procession. They carried a black, plywood coffin and softly sang "I'm going up yonder, we're marching, we're marching."

Some protesters also carried signs making reference to another pair of deadly encounters with police: the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City and the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who suffered a spinal injury while in custody.

The protests continued into the evening, when a crowd temporarily blocked downtown street intersections and chanted anti-police slogans. Demonstrators also marched past sports fans getting out of a Cleveland Indians-Cincinnati Reds game, adding to the congestion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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