Unarmed Black Couple Shot By 13 Cleveland Police Officers In 2012 Prompts Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Nine Cleveland police officers are filing a lawsuit over allegations of racial discrimination in the shooting of an unarmed black couple back in 2012. News of this lawsuit follows the Michael Brown shooting controversy and one just last week in which a 12-year-old African-American boy was shot and killed.

According to a CNN report, the lawsuit is filed by eight white officers and one Hispanic officer with the East Cleveland Police Department. They say they’re treated more “harshly” than black police officers with the department.

The incident happened in late 2012 when cops heard gunfire and thought someone in a car was shooting at them. A car chase ensued and 13 officers eventually fired 137 shots at the vehicle, killing a black couple. After an extensive search, no weapon was found inside the car.

As maintained by the plaintiffs involved in the shooting, they say they were placed on administrative leave for three days before going “to the gym” for a 45-day “cooling off period.”

Over the course of several months’ time, most of the officers were allowed back on full duty, but they were placed on restrictive duty in an effort to be “politically expedient,” the lawsuit reveals. The restrictive duty concluded in June 2014, but officers feel they were deprived of better wages and opportunities for promotions and transfers. All nine Cleveland police officers believe it’s because of their race that they were treated as such.

The lawsuit that was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, begins with what’s below.

“The City of Cleveland, through the other named defendants, and the other named defendants in their individual capacities, have a history of treating non-African American officers involved in the shootings of African Americans substantially harsher than African American officers.

“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.”


Cleveland.com reported on the shooting of the unarmed black couple on December 3, 2012. Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, were shot and killed in the car chase that happened in East Cleveland. During a chase on the highway, one of the officers reported seeing something in the passenger’s hands.

Three dozen rounds were removed from the bodies of Russell and Williams. Pathologists at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said Williams was shot 24 times.

The nine Cleveland police officers filing the racial discrimination lawsuit are hoping for different standards in what they view as unequal at the police department. They strongly feel that the shooting of a black unarmed couple in 2012 resulted in “harsher” disciplinary actions than what fellow African-American police officers would have received.

[Image via Cleveland.com]