Streets calm a day after 71 arrested in Cleveland protests

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- The streets returned to calm Sunday after police arrested dozens of demonstrators overnight when protests grew increasingly aggressive in the wake of a patrolman's acquittal in the deaths of two unarmed black suspects.

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Streets calm a day after 71 arrested in Cleveland protests
The car driven by Timothy Russell is shown Friday, April 10, 2015, in Cleveland. Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo, 31, is being tried on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the November 2012 deaths of Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, after a high-speed chase. The defense attorney's , prosecuting attorney and the judge visited the warehouse where the car and two police cruisers involved in the chase are stored. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk, Pool)
Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo listens to opening arguments Monday, April 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo's trial began Monday on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of 43-year-old Timothy Russell and 30-year-old Malissa Williams after a high-speed chase. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, Pool)
The front windshield of the car driven by Timothy Russell is shown Friday, April 10, 2015, in Cleveland. Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo, 31, is being tried on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the November 2012 deaths of Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, after a high-speed chase. The defense attorney's, prosecuting attorney and the judge visited the warehouse where the car and two police cruisers involved in the chase are stored. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk, Pool)
Cleveland police officer, Michael Brelo, left, listens during his trial Tuesday, April 7, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo, 31, is being tried on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the November 2012 deaths of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, after a high-speed chase. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer,John Kuntz,Pool)
The car that was driven by Timothy Russell, center, rests next to a police car at a warehouse where the car and two police cruisers involved in the chase are stored Friday, April 10, 2015, in Cleveland. Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo, 31, is being tried on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the November 2012 deaths of Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, after a high-speed chase. The defense attorney's, prosecuting attorney's and the judge visited the warehouse where the car and two police cruisers involved in the chase are stored. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk, Pool)
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In total, 71 people were arrested, including several who turned their anger toward bystanders in downtown Cleveland, Police Chief Calvin Williams said. Someone picked up a restaurant sign and hit a patron in the head, and other protesters used pepper spray on passers-by and restaurant patrons sitting at outdoor cafes.

But Mayor Frank Jackson thanked the vast majority of protesters who remained peaceful and respectful as they voiced their frustration with Saturday's verdict.

Officer Michael Brelo, 31, faces administrative charges while remaining suspended without pay after he was found not guilty on two counts of voluntary manslaughter, but he no longer faces the prospect of prison. The anxious city now awaits a decision on criminal charges against a white officer in the fatal shooting of a black 12-year-old boy with a pellet gun.

Brelo and 12 other officers fired 137 shots at a car with Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams inside it on Nov. 29, 2012. The shooting occurred at the end of a 22-mile chase involving more than 100 Cleveland police officers and 60 cruisers after Russell's Chevy Malibu backfired while speeding past police headquarters. During the chase, an officer reported that he thought he'd seen Williams with a gun. At the end, police mistook police gunfire for shots from Russell's car.

Brelo fired 49 of those shots that night, but it was the final 15 fired into the windshield while he stood on the hood of Russell's car that led to his indictment and a four-week trial. He faced up to 22 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

The shooting helped prompt an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice that concluded Cleveland police had engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive use of force and violations of people's civil rights.

Jackson said protesters were encouraged to continue expressing their opinions as long as they stayed peaceful. Williams said police only moved in Saturday when things got violent and people refused to disperse.

"We want to make sure that people understand we're going to help you in this process but if things turn violent, as we stated in the beginning, we will take action to preserve safety in the city," Williams said.

The protests erupted as authorities work to complete an investigation into the Tamir Rice shooting, the findings of which will be given to the prosecutor's office to decide whether to pursue criminal charges.

Alicia Kirkman, 47, of Cleveland, said she joined the march in honor of her son, killed in a police shooting eight years ago.

"I'm just so mad we never get justice from any of the police killings," said Kirkman, who said she settled with the city after her son's death but no charges were filed.

The judge said in his ruling that he wouldn't "sacrifice" Brelo to the wave of anti-police sentiment that has swept across the nation in the wake of other police in-custody deaths. While protests in cities like Baltimore, New York City and Ferguson, Missouri, have erupted into violence, the demonstrations in Cleveland didn't escalate.

The judge's decision to acquit Brelo focused on which shots killed Russell, 43, and Williams, 30, two homeless drug addicts with a long history of mental illness. Four of the 23 gunshot wounds to Russell and seven of Williams' 24 wounds were believed to have been fatal. Judge John P. O'Donnell said in his 35-page verdict that while testimony showed Brelo fired some of the fatal shots, other officers fired kill shots as well.

A grand jury charged five police supervisors with misdemeanor dereliction of duty for failing to control the chase. All five have pleaded not guilty and no trial date has been set.

Prosecutors had argued that when Brelo stood on the hood of the Malibu that he meant to kill Russell and Williams instead of containing a threat to his and other officers' lives. O'Donnell ruled that even the last 15 shots were justified based on Brelo's belief that someone inside the car had fired at police at the beginning, middle and end of the chase.

"Officer Brelo risked his life on that night," Brelo's lead attorney, Patrick D'Angelo, said after the verdict.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said he respected O'Donnell's decision, and added that the case would prevent police violence.

In addition to the Tamir Rice case, the county prosecutor's office is looking into the death of a black woman who died in police custody while lying face first on the ground in handcuffs. The family of Tanisha Anderson, 37, has sued the city of Cleveland and the two police officers who subdued her. They say she panicked Nov. 12 when officers put her in the back of a patrol car after they'd responded to a call about Anderson having a mental health crisis.

Russell's sister, Michelle, said Brelo would ultimately face justice, despite the judge's decision. The city of Cleveland has paid the families of Russell and Williams a total of $3 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit.

"He's not going to dodge this just because he was acquitted," Michelle Russell said. "God will have the final say."

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Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins, John Seewer in Toledo and John Coyne contributed to this report.


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Streets calm a day after 71 arrested in Cleveland protests
A demonstrator is arrested during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Protestors march across the Detroit Superior Bridge as people take to the streets and protest in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Tanis Quach, of Cleveland, protests in front of the Justice Building. People take to the streets and protest in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Police in front of Progressive Field stand guard during demenstrations in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: A protestor throws a sign at a patron at Harry Buffal on E 4th. St. during demonstrations in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People take to the streets and protest in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Demonstrators march during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
Worshippers hold hands at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church as the congregation is lead in a prayer for healing following the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Demonstrators march during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Demonstrators march during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Mounted police follow demonstrators as they march through downtown during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A protestor films riot police as they advance on a small march against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Demonstrators pause at the entrance to the Cuyahoga County Justice Center as police stand guard during a protest against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo
Protesters are escorted to a bus for transport after getting arrested after protesting the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. The acquittal came at a time of nationwide tension among police and black citizens punctuated by protests over the deaths of black suspects at the hands of white officers — and following a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that Cleveland police had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Protesters are directed to a bus for transport after getting arrested after protesting the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. The acquittal came at a time of nationwide tension among police and black citizens punctuated by protests over the deaths of black suspects at the hands of white officers — and following a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that Cleveland police had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Protesters are directed to a bus for transport after getting arrested after protesting the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. The acquittal came at a time of nationwide tension among police and black citizens punctuated by protests over the deaths of black suspects at the hands of white officers — and following a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that Cleveland police had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Protesters wait to be transported after getting arrested after protesting the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. The acquittal came at a time of nationwide tension among police and black citizens punctuated by protests over the deaths of black suspects at the hands of white officers — and following a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that Cleveland police had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Protesters outside of Tower City in Public Square demonstrate in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People take to the streets and protest in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
Riot police stand in formation as a protest forms against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo was acquitted Saturday in a case involving a 137-shot barrage of gunfire that helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice determine the city police department had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Cleveland police officers observe a protest near the home of the Cuyahoga County prosecutor after the acquittal of officer Michael Brelo, on Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo, a police officer charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, was acquitted, Saturday. Marchers also protested the lack of progress into the investigation of the killing of a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun by Cleveland police last year. (AP photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Alfredo Williams, left, and Renee Robinson, cousins of Malissa Williams who is one of the victims, protests outside the courthouse after the Michael Brelo verdict Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo, 31, a police officer charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, Williams and Timothy Russell, during a 137-shot barrage of gunfire, was acquitted, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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