Judge has not yet decided whether grand jury testimony is tainted in Cleveland police shooting



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FILE-In this Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 file photo shows Ohio BCI agents and other law enforcement officials investigating a police shooting that killed two people in East Cleveland, Ohio. A judge is expected to decide Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 whether tainted grand jury testimony was used to indict six Cleveland police officers in the aftermath of a deadly police shooting in 2012 of two unarmed suspects and whether the indictments should be dismissed. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Marvin Fong, File) NO MAGS, NO TV, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES


CLEVELAND — A judge on Thursday concluded a lengthy hearing without ruling on the question of whether prosecutors used tainted grand jury testimony to indict six Cleveland officers in a deadly police shooting in 2012.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell ended the 1 1/2-day session without indicating when he would rule on whether the indictments should be dismissed.

Attorneys for the six officers argued that prosecutors must prove they did not use protected statements from an internal police investigation conducted in the aftermath of a shooting in which 13 officers fired 137 rounds into a car and killed two unarmed suspects.

A county prosecutor argued that his office took care to shield the officers' protected statements taken by Cleveland police from statements gathered by state investigators for a criminal probe.

O'Donnell is expected to decide whether the charges against the officers should be thrown out based on their contention that prosecutors improperly used statements from the internal police investigation. More than 100 officers were involved in the chase and subsequent shooting. More than 270 officers on duty that night were interviewed for the internal investigation to determine administrative discipline.

A 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision says that that when a police officer is compelled to make a statement under the threat of dismissal, the information he provides cannot be used against him in a criminal prosecution.

Officer Michael Brelo faces two counts of felony aggravated manslaughter after being accused of jumping on the hood of the suspects' car and firing the final 15 shots of a 137-round barrage into the windshield after a police chase Nov. 12, 2012. Five supervisors each face one count of misdemeanor dereliction of duty. All have pleaded not guilty.

The 43-year-old driver, Timothy Russell, and his 30-year-old passenger, Malissa Williams, were each struck with more than 20 rounds.

Prosecutors argue they kept improper evidence out of the case by using a "taint team" of prosecutors that reviewed all the officers' statements before a "clean team" of prosecutors presented the case to the grand jury. Prosecutors also argue that the law allows them to use the internal statements of officers who were not targets of the criminal investigation to prosecute the six officers who were.

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