Nine police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, are suing the city, claiming that they faced racial discrimination and “harsh” treatment after their involvement in the 2012 shooting of two unarmed black citizens.
The group, comprised of eight white officers and one Hispanic officer, filed a federal suit on Friday in which they claimed that the Cleveland Police Department “treats non-black officers involved in shootings of blacks more harshly than black officers,” according to the Daily Mail. The officers’ lawsuit argues that their suspension, reinstatement and subsequent demotion to restricted duty were “politically expedient.”
“A serious dichotomy exists as a result of the defendants' longstanding practices and procedures which place onerous burdens on non-African American officers, including the plaintiffs, because of their race and the race of persons who are the subjects of the legitimate use of deadly force,” the suit reads.
Thirteen officers, including the nine that filed the suit, were involved in a high-speed chase that led to officers firing shots into the car of 43-year-old Timothy Russell, killing him and passenger Malissa Willaims, 30. Russell and Williams were unarmed and killed in the parking lot of a middle school. Authorities reportedly had heard what they thought were gunshots, leading to a 20-mile chase that often reached speeds as high as 110 miles per hour.
An investigation later concluded that there were no gunshots and that the noise may have been Russell’s car backfiring. The chase involved over 100 police officers and 60 cars, and one officer in particular fired a total of 49 shots at the car in the parking lot, including the final 15 rounds that were fired through the windshield. That officer, Michael Brelo, is facing two charges of voluntary manslaughter.
Terry Gilbert, the attorney for Russell’s family, has openly criticized the way the chase was handled, saying that a lack of supervision “led to the massive violations of the constitutional rights of Russell and Williams.”
Source: The Daily Mail / Photo Credit: huffingtonpost.com, cleveland.com