Judge Rejects Lawsuit Brought by Group of Caucasian Cleveland Police Officers Against the City for Discrimination

Nine Officers Cite Treatment Following Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams Shooting




Update: A judge on Tuesday rejected the lawsuit, according to Cleveland.com. Via courts reporter Eric Heisig:

U.S. District Judge James Gwin concluded that the officers produced "no evidence" to support their claims.

Gwin wrote that what the group described as evidence were just "short excerpts from dated testimony in unrelated cases that consist of individuals giving general discussion about race" and the city. Records show that the length of restricted duty more depends on the facts of a case than the color of an officer's skin.


(Original story 11/29/2014) Further highlighting the Cleveland police department's racial divide, a group of nine Cleveland police officers, self-identifying as "non-African Americans," are suing in federal court for what they deem unfair treatment toward them because of their role in the notorious police shooting death of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in November 2012.

The plaintiffs include eight white officers — Erin O'Donnell, Christopher Ereg, Michael Farley, Cynthia Moore, Michael Rinkus, William Salupo, Brian Sobolik, Scott Sistek — and Hispanic officer Wilfredo Diaz. They are bringing suit against the city of Cleveland, then-Police Chief and current Safety Director Michael McGrath, then-Safety Director Martin Flask, current Police Chief Calvin Williams and Mayor Frank Jackson, on counts of discrimination, civil rights violation and breach of employment contract.

The gist of the case involves their claim that because they aren't black, they were punished ("assigned to boring and menial tasks," etc.) more harshly for killing black people on the job than when black officers kill black people on the job ("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 shooting of African Americans substantially harsher than African American officers"). After police shoot people, it is standard for officers to be placed on temporary paid-leave — a 45-day "cooling off period" involving "menial and unpleasant tasks," the suit says. The white officers' "cooling off period" was too long, they say.

The suit blames the media, naturally, for sensationalizing the shooting:

Almost immediately the news media began to sensationalize the events. They reported the officers who discharged their weapon as being 12 white and one Hispanic and the deceased as African Americans. The news media reported that members of the community called the shootings murder, executions, and demanded that the officers involved be punished. Members of the community representing various factions exerted pressure upon the defendants to punish the officers.

Here is the full explanation of the discrimination claim in the complaint (emphasis ours):

57. Plaintiffs incorporate the preceding paragraphs of this complaint as if fully rewritten herein.

58. Plaintiffs suffered adverse employment action and unfair punishment arising from the events of November 29, 2012 including but not limited to being assigned to boring and menial tasks in the gym with no of chance overtime, secondary employment, pay for court appearances, no chance to apply for promotions or transfers to specialized units, and being prohibited from engaging in active police work as they had grown accustomed and contracted for.

59. Plaintiffs are non-African Americans.

60. Plaintiffs’ assignment to “gym duty” was substantially longer than that which had been meted out to similarly situated African American officers. By way of one example, an African American officer who actually shot someone was sent to the gym for 45 days and then was only disciplined for reaching into the person’s car. African American Detective John Jordan, whose failure to communicate his contact with the Russell vehicle and his pursuit of Russell was listed as one of the systemic faults that lead to the shooting, was not disciplined in anyway.

61. 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.

62. 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.

63. Available statistics confirm that the City of Cleveland and the other defendants have created a glaring disparity in assignments to the gymnasium based upon race.

64. The defendants were on notice and aware of at least three prior suits alleging their same conduct was unconstitutional and a violation of Federal and state law. Two of the suits were successful. Yet, they knowingly and intentionally persist in this misconduct.

65. The defendants do not possess a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for the disparate treatment of the plaintiffs. Any reason advanced to explain this disparate treatment is merely a pretext for unlawful discrimination.

66. The City of Cleveland and the other defendants have discriminated against Plaintiffs based upon race, and potentially other factors, in direct violation of 42 U. S. C. §1981, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2, Ohio Rev. Code §4112.02(A) and potentially other provisions of law.

67. As a direct and proximate result of such wrongdoing, Plaintiffs have suffered lost wages and earnings, impairment of their earning capacity, and impairment of their professional reputations, humiliation, emotional distress, mental anguish, and other serious damages. These losses are expected to be permanent and ongoing.

Yes, Cleveland police officers involved in killing two unarmed people are saying that extra long "gym duty" because of their roles in a shooting incident resulted in "emotional distress" and "mental anguish." Not that they killed people, but because of gym duty.

Read the suit here:

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