by Doug Brown
On Nov. 29, we brought you the news that nine self-identifying "non-African American" Cleveland police officers filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Cleveland, alleging racial discrimination in the aftermath of their involvement in the 2012 chase and shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
The plaintiffs are nine of the 13 officers who fired their guns (Michael Brelo, the worst of the bunch, is not a plaintiff). Here's what we reported in November:
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.
Today, Cleveland's lawyers filed their first response to the suit, simply denying everything they're accused of ("Defendants had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for all of their actions and/or there is insufficient evidence of a pretext for discrimination") without saying much more, as one would expect.
Make sure to check out our original story for more details on the lawsuit, and peruse the documents below, starting with the original complaint file in November...
... and the city's response today: