CRIME

Attorney: Cleveland officer feared for life while firing final shots of 137-round barrage

  • Cleveland police Officer Michael Brelo, right, listens in court to the opening statements at his trial Monday, April 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo is charged with 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/Tony Dejak, Pool)

    Cleveland police Officer Michael Brelo, right, listens in court to the opening statements at his trial Monday, April 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo is charged with 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/Tony Dejak, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cleveland police Officer Michael Brelo, center, listens with his attorneys to opening arguments in court, Monday, April 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo, 31, went on trial Monday 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/Tony Dejak, Pool)

    Cleveland police Officer Michael Brelo, center, listens with his attorneys to opening arguments in court, Monday, April 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Brelo, 31, went on trial Monday 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/Tony Dejak, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rick Bell, assistant prosecuting attorney of the chief of criminal investigation division, talks about the trajectory of the bullets shot by Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo during opening statements in Brelo's trial Monday, April 6, 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/Tony Dejak, Pool)

    Rick Bell, assistant prosecuting attorney of the chief of criminal investigation division, talks about the trajectory of the bullets shot by Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo during opening statements in Brelo's trial Monday, April 6, 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/Tony Dejak, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

An attorney for a Cleveland police officer charged in the deaths of two unarmed suspects says the 13 officers who fired at a beat-up car after a high-speed chase in November 2012 feared for their lives when they fired 137 rounds at the vehicle.

The attorney said during opening arguments that 31-year-old Michael Brelo's tactics could be questioned, but his justification for having fired 15 shots from the hood of the suspects' car was to eliminate a threat to his and other officers' lives.

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. A judge, not a jury, will decide the charges.

Prosecutors argued that Brelo was enraged when he fired into the windshield.