Police Abuse

Cleveland Cops Claiming Racial Discrimination in Suspensions for Shooting Two Unarmed Black People Can Still Appeal, City Says

Eight cops involved in a deadly car chase are suing for being placed on more restricted duty than was mandatory.

|

City of Cleveland

Eight of the white and one Hispanic Cleveland police officer involved in the deadly car chase that started when a cop thought he heard a gunshot (likely engine backfire) and ended with 25 seconds of gunfire—1 3 cops shot 137 rounds, killing Timothy Russell, the driver, and Malissa Williams, a passenger, neither armed—are suing the Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) for allegedly discriminating against them for not being black.

The city, which previously invited the feds to review CDP's practices after the shooting, filed a response to the lawsuit this week, denying the allegations and claiming the cops had not yet exhausted the administrative appeals to their penalties yet.

Dozens of cops involved in the chase and its supervision were eventually suspended, but none for longer than ten days. Six cops were charged criminally, but only one was involved in the shooting. Michael Brelo, now a former cop, shot at Russell's car 49 times, and was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

The other cops who shot and killed Russell and Williams, including the ones involved in the suit, were placed on restricted duty, and then placed on restricted duty again. They are still employed by the CDP but claim they've missed out on raises, promotions, and transfers because of the suspensions they received for killing two unarmed black people by firing 137 shots at their car.

Cleveland.com reports:

The suit says that the nine officers were discriminated against because they were not black and that they were forced to endure a longer-than usual gym assignment involving "menial and unpleasant tasks."

According to the suit, an officer is usually placed on restricted duty for 45 days after a shooting. The officers claim the department violated protocol following the chase by ordering the officers back to restricted duty after being allowed to return to the streets in June and July 2013.

"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 lawsuit says.

Last month, for the second time in ten years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found a pattern and practice of the use of excessive force by Cleveland police, triggering a new round of negotiations over federal monitoring. Cleveland's police chief, Calvin Williams, who is black, denies there's a systemic problem at the department, and city officials say they're still reviewing the DOJ report.

NEXT: Is Hillary Clinton the HealthCare.gov of Presidential Candidates?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. They are still employed by the CDP but claim they’ve missed out on raises, promotions, and transfers because of the suspensions they received for killing two unarmed black people by firing 137 shots at their car.

    Eddie this is probably the best sentence I’m gonna read all day. Kudos.

    1. It takes “chutzpah” to a whole new level. By the cops, I mean, not Ed.

  2. including the plaintiffs, because of their race and the race of persons who are the subjects of the legitimate use of deadly force

    The implication of course is that all deadly force used by the police is legitimate because when police use deadly force it’s legitimate.

    1. Well – duh! QED!

      /copsucker

  3. They are still employed by the CDP but claim they’ve missed out on raises, promotions, and transfers because of the suspensions they received for killing two unarmed black people by firing 137 shots at their car.

    I guess they can’t just count themselves lucky for not being jailed for murder. Some motherfucker always thinks he’s a cowboy.

    1. Do you count yourself lucky when there’s coffee in the pot at work? No, but you do bitch about it when there’s no coffee.

      Same deal with cops. Except the coffee is promotions. And murdering people is, like, the cup or something. I don’t know. This metaphor kind of got away from me.

      1. Murdering people is like having a hot secretary BRING you that coffee.

        You’re welcome.

        1. –mag* drop–

          *’mag’ is the cop equivalent of ‘mic’ for ‘civilians’

  4. When Sal Culosi was murdered by the cops in Virginia, didn’t the union complain about the two week(was it two weeks?)suspension the murdering cop was given, because the normal punishment for “accidentally” killing an unarmed man should have been a written reprimand?

  5. shot at Russell’s car 49 times, and was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

    So this guy mag dumped… three times?

    1. Lost in the ecstasy of the moment, I imagine.

    2. Obviously, if we just had common sense regulations on magazine size, this never would’ve happened. I blame Republicans.

    3. Yeah, that just baffles me. How in the hell do you have time to reload TWICE and still not notice that no one is shooting back at you?

      1. How do you empty the gun three times in twenty five seconds?
        (honest question, I own a revolver but have limited experience with semi-autos)

        1. With some practice, it’s not unusual.

          I mean, you can do the mag dump in probably two-3 seconds… so ALL the rest of the time is grabbing the new mag and slapping it in the pistol.

          You don’t eject the mag into your left hand and put it back in your carrier, you’re dropping the mag… on the hood of the unarmed people’s car, grabbing new mag, dropping slide, rinse, repeat.

          1. With some practice, it’s not unusual.

            We’re talking cops here. They go to the range what, once a year to qualify?

            1. *shrug*

              Good point. I think with a little practice I could mag dump 3 times in 25 seconds.

              Now ask me if I hit my target… even once.

              1. Last time I shot a semi-auto it was a S&W M&P in 9mm. I had been plinking with my Model 10 and hitting the target every time. I couldn’t hit a damn thing with the semi-auto. Maybe I need to get used to the sights or something.

                1. It’s quite interesting how shooting with a different gun changes your accuracy profile.

                  I can’t divine what might have been happening in your case. Heck it could have been that with the revolver, you were forced to shoot more slowly and carefully, but once you had the semi auto, you just sort of went *bang*bang*bang*bang* without properly re-acquiring your target.

                  1. but once you had the semi auto, you just sort of went *bang*bang*bang*bang* without properly re-acquiring your target.

                    No, I went slow. One thing I noticed about that gun was the long trigger pull. It forced me to concentrate on the target, yet I still missed. Next time I’ll use a bigger target so I can see where the rounds are going. This was a small target and I couldn’t see where the misses went.

                2. And of course, all of these “polymer wonders” come with fixed sights, and each model has its quirks– this one shoots low, that one shoots high etc.

                  1. This is my Glock 17. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

                  2. And of course, all of these “polymer wonders”

                    This thing was heavy. I don’t think it was a polymer wonder.

                    1. If you had a long trigger pull it sounds like it was DAO. If you want to try for more accuracy with a semi-auto get a SAO or a SAO/DAO so that you get a short trigger pull after the first shot. Makes a big difference.

                    2. You said S&W M&P… was it the M&P Shield? That’s definitely a polymer wonder. It may have been heavy because semi-autos in 9mm carry a LOT of lead in the grip.

                      My Springfield XD45 carries 13 rounds. Load that thing up with 13 rds of 230 grain .45, and I’m pretty sure it weighs as much or more than my 7 shot 1911 which– of course is all-steel.

        2. Reasonable question. From a pure shooting standpoint, burning 49 rounds in 25 seconds isn’t even remotely hard, particularly if you aren’t paying attention to where your shots are going. Minus reloads, you’re only looking at about 2-1/2 shots per second.

          As to why, I’d guess that Officer Death Blossom kept shooting as long as his buddies were shooting. Sympathetic fire is a real thing, not that I think it’s a valid excuse.

      2. Well there are reports of cops under fire not realizing they didn’t have a gun in their hand and just pointing their finger. People get funny when bullets start flying.

        1. When I was a kid I had read stories of cops who had unloaded their cylinder and not realized it.

          (Cylinder: that tells you something about when I was a kid)

          But what you never ever heard was a cop who unloaded his cylinder, reloaded it, unloaded it, reloaded it, and unloaded it a third time without realizing it.

          I’ll give a cop a mag dump when the bullets start flying. I’m hesitant to forgive three mag dumps when no one’s shooting back.

    4. No indication of what he was carrying, but with one 16 round magazine in the weapon plus one round in the chamber, plus two more mags on his belt, would mean he fired every round he had.

    5. Shoot until the blood stops pumping from the bodies, I guess.

  6. they were forced to endure a longer-than usual gym assignment involving “menial and unpleasant tasks.”

    Like cleaning up shit on the gym floor?

  7. If people needed more proof that cops and their unions want a two-tier system of justice, I can’t think of a better example.

    1. Only in CopLand does this not result in a single conviction, but actually draws a lawsuit from those who received marginal punishments– punishments less severe than most kids get when they come home late.

    2. Want or have?

  8. The sad part is they are probably right. Their punishment has more to do with the optics of white cops shooting black men than their actual crime.

    1. It’s possible that the only cops who get punished are the ones unfortunate enough to kill unarmed black people– as the Ferguson case reveals, only certain unarmed black people.

      But it seems that regardless of media attention or telegenic victims, the punishments seem woefully light.

    2. You call that a punishment?

      Also, do you usually assume racial discrimination claims are valid, or only when they’re pressed by white cops?

    3. The outrage here isn’t that some cops were punished too harshly.

      The outrage is that nobody, but nobody, was punished enough.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.