WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ron Hosko, President of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, (LELDF) issued the following statement in response to the decision by Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell to acquit police officer Michael Brelo of manslaughter charges in Cleveland, Ohio. LELDF has supported Officer Brelo through the duration of his trial.
“The decision by Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell to acquit police officer Michael Brelo of manslaughter charges reinforces a stark reality of police work – that law officers across the country are routinely forced to make split second decisions in highly charged situations, often without all the information they would want or may need, in order to protect the public.
“This decision follows an announcement by prosecutors in Madison, Wisconsin who said a police officer in that city will not face charges in connection with a fatal shooting of a drug influenced, unarmed man. Prosecutors said the officer involved, “…did not have the ability to use non-lethal force during this incident, based on space and time considerations.”
“We must respect the rule of law and avoid a misinformed rush to judgment of police officers involved in controversial use of force incidents. The politically influenced charges recently brought against six police officers in Baltimore MD, has impugned the reputations of law officers everywhere who face potentially life threatening situations with chilling regularity.
“The recent killings of two Mississippi police officers and a New York City police officer, along with the attempted terrorist attack in Texas, remind us just how dangerous a cop’s job can be as well as the vigilance and heroism required for an officer to do their job.
“The law enforcement community has elevated the issue of the proper use of force and is calling for increased and improved training and resources for officers to be more even more effective. Integrating the use of body cameras in many localities should also help build trust between police and the public they protect and serve.
“We sincerely hope that the people of Cleveland will heed Mayor Jackson’s calls for responsible behavior, respect for this verdict and avoiding unruly actions against other law officers in retaliation for a decision they may not support.
“The vast majority of police officers are hardworking men and women who are dedicated to serving the public and we cannot allow our police to become political punching bags, targets for political opportunists who cynically generate unwarranted criticism of the people who report for a difficult and dangerous job.to a difficult and dangerous job.”