After "not guilty" was read as the verdict for Officer Michael Brelo for his part in the shooting death of Black couple Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams took to Twitter to speak on the verdict.
The actor says that the seemingly excessive force in apprehending unarmed Black suspects and the court's decision to find Brelo not guilty extends a pattern of "anti-blackness" as state policy. In his tweets, Williams said:
Count to 137. 1 cop shot 49 times, reloading twice. Count to 49. Jumping onto hood like Mad Max to shoot 15 times. Count to 15.
You didn't count cuz it would take too long & make it way too real. We don't count because we don't count. But we do count so we will count.
The very act of 13 cops empowered enough to shoot 2 UNARMED Americans 137 times in public is evidence of anti-blackness as state policy.
The encounter between the couple and police started on November 29, 2012, when officers mistook suspect Russell's car backfiring for gunfire. He lead law enforcement on a 20 mile, 60 police car chase, ending in a middle school parking lot. Russell crashed into one of the police cars, and according to prosecutors, approximately 137 shots were fired at the couple's vehicle in eight seconds. The final 15 shots came when Officer Brelo stood on the hood of car and fired into the windshield. This happened after a period of ceasefire, and the couple's car had been pinned in between police vehicles. However, neither Russell nor Williams had a weapon.
Judge John P. O'Donnell ruled for Brelo's innocence, stating that "the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant Michael Brelo knowingly caused the deaths of Russell and Williams."
Jesse Williams has been a vocal activist, often speaking on racial problems as instances of white officers killing unarmed Black suspects become national lightning rods. He went on CNN to discuss how the case of Mike Brown and Darren Wilson highlighted double standards in narratives about criminality and race. He also speaks on other historical issues surrounding civil rights and social justice. In January, Williams explained at length about revisionist history of Martin Luther King's more militant class politics in favor of more palatable racial politics about non-violence and peaceful protest.
Read the actor's tweets on the #BreloVerdict below: