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Police interviews reveal emotion during deadly chase, shooting

9:03 AM, Feb 28, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- For the first time, we hear from the police officers who opened fire on 2 unarmed suspects after a high speed chase last November.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Attorney General's Office released more than 12 hours of interviews conducted by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI.

They reveal a side of the story, never seen before: Veteran police officers, reduced to tears, while recounting their role in the shooting.

Officer Michael Brelo, an Iraq war veteran, is seen pausing several times, as he fights back tears.

"Even through Iraq, I never fired my weapon. I've never been so afraid of my life," said Brelo.

Investigators say Brelo jumped on top of a police cruiser and fired directly into the suspects' windshield. 49 bullet casings at the scene matched his weapon.

In the interview of Officer Mike Farley, BCI agent John Saraya asks, "Why did you fire?"

"It was the scariest thing in the world, I fired because I thought they were shooting at us," said Farley.

"I don't know if I ever want to be a policeman again," he quietly said, as he held tissues and dried his tears.

The 13 Cleveland Police officers fired as many as 137 rounds at the suspects, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, and their car after a 22-minute chase that criss-crossed the city, and ended in a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland.

The following barrage of gunfire lasted about 17 seconds.

Officer Wilfredo "Ed" Diaz, who says the suspects' car was coming at him, was the first to open fire.

"I remember thinking I wasn't going to shoot fast enough. I remember thinking by daughter's gonna be 4 in March, and I won't see her," Diaz said, as he choked back tears.

Det. Jeff Follmer, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association says he wants the public to see the officers' perspective of that night.

"These officers are doing their job, and because of the suspects' actions, they're forced to make split second decisions," said Follmer.

The videotaped statements, along with hundreds of other documents and evidence from the Attorney General's investigation have been turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office for review.

 

WKYC-TV

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