Judge in Cleveland police shooting says race wasn’t factor

In a Monday, April 6, 2015 file photo, Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo listens to opening arguments in Cleveland in his trial on voluntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of two unarmed motorists after a high-speed chase. The circumstances of a police shooting trial unfolding in a Cleveland courtroom share similarities to a high-speed chase and fatal shooting in Tennessee as well as the matters of law on which the Cleveland case will be decided: When does a threat to officers’ lives end? (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, Pool, File)
In a Monday, April 6, 2015 file photo, Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo listens to opening arguments in Cleveland in his trial on voluntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of two unarmed motorists after a high-speed chase. The circumstances of a police shooting trial unfolding in a Cleveland courtroom share similarities to a high-speed chase and fatal shooting in Tennessee as well as the matters of law on which the Cleveland case will be decided: When does a threat to officers’ lives end? (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, Pool, File)

CLEVELAND (AP) – The judge who found a white Cleveland policeman not guilty in the deaths of two black suspects who were killed in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire says the case has nothing to do with race.

In an interview with Politico published Friday, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell says that while he deliberated patrolman Michael Brelo’s fate, race “never consciously entered” his thoughts. O’Donnell says prosecutors failed to prove Brelo wasn’t legally justified in firing 49 shots at the unarmed suspects, the last 15 while standing on the hood.

O’Donnell acquitted Brelo of two counts of involuntary manslaughter last month. That sparked protests in Cleveland that led to dozens of arrests.

O’Donnell says he doesn’t know if a jury would have reached the same conclusion.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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