It's been that long since the infamous police pursuit and shooting that left unarmed suspects Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams dead


CLEVELAND -- It has been an agonizing 534 days for the victims' families, for the officers involved, for the city and its police department, and much of the community.

It's been that long since the infamous police pursuit and shooting that left unarmed suspects Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams dead in a volley of at least 137 shots fired by 13 officers.

And now a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury is closing in on deciding whether or not any officers will face criminal charges.

The Grand Jury is a secret process but it's believed the one sitting on the case was seated last September and is now running up against the maximum amount of time it can be in session.

Normally, a panel sits for four months. The nine-month limit is looming within days.

People on all sides of the issue are awaiting the long-in-arriving outcome.

Retired Plain Dealer Reporter Dick Peery has been posting a daily notice of the days passed since the incident, to remind the community of the issues involved..

"There are people who feel there are great injustices and they are frightened by it....If police are free to shoot anyone they want at any time, most won't, but some will...We need some justice," he said.

Case Western Reserve University Law School Instructor Michael Benza sees Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty in a no-win situation, sure to face criticism no matter what is decided.

"He's got competing interests prevailing on his office which way they should be going," he said.

Benza sees McGinty as giving this grand jury a bigger role in the case.

"He's using the grand jury in a way of investigation different than many cases that have been indicted in Cuyahoga County," he continued.

But Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association Lawyer Pat D'Angelo says McGinty should be making the call on whether there should be charges, not the grand jury.

D'Angelo believes there will be indictments.

"He's hiding behind the secrecy of the grand jury to say it's their determination, succumbed to the politics and pressure. We'll see what he rolls out," he said.

D'Angelo claims McGinty early-on made remarks suggesting there would be no indictments. That changed several months ago, when he told a leadership group, "the buffalo are coming," sounding like there would be.

D'Angelo and the CPPA argue that all officers involved in the shooting thought they were being shot at and in danger of being struck by the victims' car.

One officer, Michael Brelo, fired 49 shots, reloading his weapon and ending up on the hood of the victims' car.

A grand jury has 14 members and normally meets twice a week. Five members are alternates. Nine members vote.

It's takes seven of nine votes to issue an indictment.

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