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Cleveland officer found not guilty in shooting deaths of unarmed suspects

Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter on Saturday in the 2012 shooting deaths of an unarmed man and woman.

The verdict read by Judge John P. O’Donnell came after a four-week bench trial on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, the Associated Press reported.

Judge O’Donnell said Officer Brelo acted reasonably in shooting the two suspects while standing on the hood of their car and firing through the windshield after it was surrounded, Reuters reported.

In 2012, after receiving reports of gunfire coming from the couple’s car, a high-speed, multi-city chase that originated in downtown Cleveland ensued. Thirteen police officers surrounded the vehicle in the end, firing 137 rounds.

Russell was struck 24 times and Williams 23.

No weapon was found along the route or in the car. During the trial a forensic mechanic testified that the couple’s 1979 Chevrolet Malibu was prone to backfiring.

In July, five police supervisors indicted on misdemeanor dereliction of duty charges will go on trial. A total of 64 officers have been disciplined in the incident, according to Reuters.

Protests in Cleveland began shortly after the acquittal announcement.

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