First These Cops Shot 140 Bullets at a Black Couple. Then They Complained About Reverse Racism.

And a federal judge just shut them down.

The windshield of the car driven by Timothy Russell on the night of November 29, 2012. Following a high-speed chase, Cleveland police officers fired 140 shots at Russell and his passenger, Malissa Williams.AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk, Pool

Today, a federal judge threw out a yearlong case centering on a peculiar claim: When non-black cops shoot and kill black people in Cleveland, they face stiffer repercussions than black cops who kill black people. Nine police officers—eight white, one Latino—claimed that they were subjected to “reverse discrimination” and “mental anguish” after a controversial 2012 incident in which they killed two unarmed African Americans in a fusillade of nearly 140 bullets. The suit, filed just days after a Cleveland police officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, alleged that the officers were singled out due to their race and were unfairly punished while the state investigated the shooting. Their claim of victimization, ruled Judge James Gwin in response to the city’s request for summary judgment, was “illogic.”

The events behind the case occurred on the night of November 29, 2012. According to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation’s report on the incident, a plainclothes officer named John Jordan saw a black man and a black woman sitting in a parked car in East Cleveland. He suspected they were “involved in illegal drug activity,” so he called in the vehicle’s license plate. The dispatcher told him it was “clean,” but Jordan decided to search the vehicle anyway, he later admitted to investigators. When the car’s driver, 43-year-old Timothy Russell, drove away, Jordan followed and pulled him over for failing to use a turn signal. When the officer got out of his unmarked car, Russell took off.

In the space of 18 seconds, 13 cops fired nearly 140 rounds at the car. One officer jumped on the hood and shot through the windshield at least 15 times.

Another officer saw Russell’s car speeding by. As it passed, he heard a loud bang, which he later said sounded like a gunshot. He sped after the car and other police cars soon joined in pursuit. The chase lasted 25 minutes and at one point involved at least 62 police cars. All the while, the suspects’ car backfired intermittently. Some officers noticed this but did not radio this information to others.

The police finally cornered the car in a middle school parking lot. After shouting for Russell to stop the vehicle, an officer fired at both Russell and his passenger, 30-year-old Malissa Williams. In the space of 18 seconds, 13 cops fired nearly 140 rounds at the car. One officer, Michael Brelo, emptied the magazine of his Glock 17, reloaded, jumped onto the hood after everyone else stopped shooting, and shot through the windshield at least 15 times, firing a total of 49 rounds. Russell and Williams were each shot more than 20 times. Both were unarmed.

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