Cuyahoga County

Police use of deadly force in I-480 shooting ruled justifiable

5/17/2016

Cleveland – The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has completed its review and concluded that the six police officers who shot and killed Michael Brennan on Interstate 480 after a high-speed chase last October were legally justified in their use of deadly force.

Evidence in the case has been presented to the Grand Jury, which agreed that the actions of the officers from Parma Heights, Parma and Brooklyn were objectively reasonable and justified in light of events that afternoon.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty sent letters today to Parma Heights Police Chief Daniel Teel, Parma Police Chief Robert Miller and Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke in which he said the officers “were justified in their use of deadly force and that any officer, faced with a similar position and similar facts, would have acted as they did to stop the serious ongoing threat presented by Mr. Brennan. In fact, in this case, it would been unreasonable and in violation of all police training if the officers had not fired when they did.”

Shortly after 1 p.m. on October 15, 2015, a man later identified as 31-year-old Michael Brennan entered a Papa John’s restaurant on Pearl Road in Parma Heights, brandished a firearm and instructed the two employees on duty to empty the cash register. After they did so, giving the robber approximately $75, he departed in a white Ford F-150 pick-up truck. The employees called 911 and reported the hold-up.  Parma Heights Police were dispatched to the scene.

On their way to the restaurant, police saw the pickup truck and attempted a traffic stop. Instead of pulling over, Mr. Brennan accelerated. Over the next several minutes, he attempted to escape police by driving at high speeds and weaving through traffic on Pearl Road, Stumph Road, Chevy Boulevard, Brookpark Road, Tiedeman Road and finally Interstate 480.

While headed eastbound on Interstate 480, Mr. Brennan crashed his truck head-on into the concrete median at mile marker 17.2. Police officers from Parma Heights, Parma and Brooklyn, the three communities through which Mr. Brennan had taken flight, positioned themselves on the passenger’s side of the pickup and shouted for Mr. Brennan to show his hands. Instead of complying, he moved around in the cab of the truck and appeared to be looking for something.  As the officers continued to shout commands that he show his hands, Mr. Brennan instead pushed open the passenger side door and got out, holding a firearm in his left hand

When Mr. Brennan began to raise the firearm, Parma Heights Sergeant Jeffrey Krepina, Parma Heights Officer Charles Mehlman, Parma Heights Officer Scott Jackson, Parma Heights Officer Stephen Lindh, Parma Officer Daniel Toporowych and Brooklyn Officer Shane Phillips discharged their weapons. Only when the police officers stopped firing and moved forward to render the suspect’s weapon safe did they learn that Mr. Brennan had been carrying a replica of a black 9mm semi-automatic firearm.

The shooting was investigated by the Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.

Evidence was turned over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office for review. In keeping with the Office’s policy on police use of deadly force cases where civilians are killed, evidence was also presented to the Grand Jury for a final determination on whether criminal charges are warranted.

Both the Prosecutor’s Office and the Grand Jury concluded that given the facts of the situation, the police officers were legally justified in their use of deadly force.

“The evidence suggests that Mr. Brennan’s objective was what is sometimes called ‘suicide by cop,’ ” Prosecutor McGinty wrote in his letter to the three chiefs. “(Mr. Brennan’s) decisions to ignore continuous, loud commands and to exit through the passenger door directly toward the police line while brandishing a weapon that Mr. Brennan alone knew was not real, all make that a plausible possibility.”

Read the CCPO investigative report

Read Prosecutor McGinty's letter to Chief Teel

Read Prosecutor McGinty's letter to Chief Mielke

Read Prosecutor McGinty's letter to Chief Miller

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or
Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us