The Netflix film dives into the infamous 2012 police chase that left Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell dead. Both the producer and director call the city home.
CLEVELAND — Wednesday evening, the makers of the Cleveland-based Netflix documentary “137 Shots” are joining together at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law for a table talk, as panelists take a deeper dive into the 2012 Cleveland police chase that ended in the fatal shootings of two Black lives: Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell.
3News sat down with the film’s director and producer, both Cleveland natives who were born and raised around the area’s justice system. Director Michael Milano says his upbringing helped him to creatively tell all sides of the 2012 incident that happened in the city he calls “home.”
“My dad and grandfather were both defense attorneys, public defenders, so I spent a lot of my childhood in the justice center,” Milano said. “There’s a great Martin Luther King quote in Cleveland, the exact halfway point of the film, where he says, “Ultimately the strong man is nonviolent. The courageous man is nonviolent.”
Documentary producer Damian Eduardos’ father served as Chaplain of Cleveland Police, while his aunt served as a longtime lieutenant on the force. Eduardos recalls on how his childhood had a direct impact on the making of “137 shots.”
“This happened in my backyard,” he lamented. “Not so much the act, but the fact that it keeps happening over and over again, it’s like Groundhog’s Day. So when is it going to stop?”
According to Milano, the film uncovers deeper issues within The Land, including how Clevelanders view criminal justice in the city, cultural clashes, and the relationship between citizens and authority.
“People hate it when you tell them the truth,” he said, “and that’s what I’ve learned in this process.”
“Do I believe in police? Absolutely, I do,” Eduardos added. “There comes a point where you have to rule out all of the bad fruit. I really do believe there are good men and women out there doing their job daily, but you have to change the culture.”
There is more than one message to take away from the film, Milano and Eduardos said, and what that message means to the city of Cleveland.
“Seeing what’s happened in America, in the media, in certain administrations and politics,” Eduardos declared. “It’s our responsibility — whether you’re Black experience was this or that — it’s your responsibility to put all perspectives out there and learn.”
A message simple in meaning, yet complex in public execution: Put an end to police brutality and violence and bring communities together.