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8 white cops, 1 Hispanic cop sue Cleveland over alleged racial bias

CLEVELAND - Nine non-African American Cleveland police officers involved in a deadly 2012 police shooting that killed two people accuse the police department of racial discrimination in a federal lawsuit against the city.

The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland by eight white officers and one Hispanic officer says the department treats non-black officers involved in shootings of blacks more harshly than black officers. Messages seeking comment from city officials Sunday weren't immediately returned.

Dozens of officers were involved in the November 2012 high-speed chase. Thirteen officers fired more than 100 shots at the vehicle, killing both unarmed people inside.

The lawsuit says officers who shot were put on administrative leave and on periods of restricted duty. The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages alleges discrimination and civil rights violations.

Cleveland's police department has been dealing with the fallout from the chase, which involved five dozen cruisers and wove through residential neighborhoods, onto Interstate 90 and eventually ended with gunfire in East Cleveland. Officers fired 137 shots.

Driver Timothy Russell and passenger Malissa Williams were both black, and no weapon was found. The police union has defended the officers' actions and said the driver was trying to ram them.

In May, a grand jury indicted six of the officers involved in the incident.

Patrol officer Michael Brelo, indicted on manslaughter charges, fired at least 15 shots, including fatal shots, while standing on the hood of the car after the vehicle was trapped by police cruisers and other officers had stopped firing.

"The driver was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said.

He said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year made clear that officers are prohibited from firing on suspects after a threat to public safety has ended.

McGinty said the five supervisors indicted ignored departmental policies on chases.

"They ignored their own training. They put the public at risk. They put the officers under their command at risk," McGinty said.

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