5 Cleveland officers re-instated after deadly 2012 chase, gunfire barrage

In this Nov. 30, 2012 file forensics photo released by the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, bullet holes are visible on the windshield and hood of a Chevy Malibu peppered by gunshots after a high-speed chase that ended in the deaths of two unarmed suspects. Michael Brelo, a police officer charged in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, two unarmed suspects during a 137-shot barrage of gunfire, was acquitted on Sat., May 23, 2015.

Office of the Ohio Attorney General via AP

CLEVELAND -- Nearly five years after a police chase and a barrage of gunfire that left two unarmed black Cleveland residents dead, five of the six officers who were fired over the shooting have been reinstated, reports CBS affiliate WOIO-TV.

Thirteen officers fired at the car with Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams inside after a 22-mile high-speed chase that involved 62 marked and unmarked cars and reached 100 mph. The pursuit began when Russell's car backfired as he sped past Cleveland police headquarters and police officers in November 2012, and bystanders thought someone inside had fired a gun.

Michael Brelo, a white patrolman who fired down through the windshield of a suspect's car at the end of a 137-shot barrage, was the only officer charged because prosecutors said he waited until the pair was no longer a threat to fire his final 15 rounds.

Russell, 43, and Williams, 30, were each shot more than 20 times.

Brelo was acquitted in May 2015 of criminal charges by a judge who said he could not determine the officer alone fired the fatal shots.

Other officers faced internal discipline, including the five officers who were fired: Michael Farley, Erin O'Donnell, Christopher Ereg, Wilfredo Diaz and Brian Sabolik, WOIO-TV reports. All fired shots, the station reports. Several other officers were suspended and one retired.

The five fired officers and Brelo reportedly took their cases to arbitration in October 2016 in an attempt to get their jobs back.

Thursday, the city of Cleveland confirmed to WOIO-TV that the five officers have been re-instated to full time duty. The re-instatements were required after arbitrator William Heekin ruled in June that they should get their jobs back without back pay, reported Cleveland.com.

Heekin ruled that Brelo should remain fired.

In the criminal case, Brelo had faced as many as 22 years in prison had the judge convicted him on two counts of voluntary manslaughter. The acquittal sparked anger and days of protests in Cleveland.