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May 30, 2020 protesters file lawsuit against more than 2 dozen Cleveland police officers, Cuyahoga County

Allege excessive force, false arrests
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Posted at 8:32 AM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-30 08:32:00-04

CLEVELAND  — A group of May 30, 2020 protesters have filed a civil rights lawsuit against more than two dozen police officers, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.

The group was protesting the death of George Floyd.

According to the lawsuit, many peaceful protesters were attacked, falsely arrested, and charged without justification or probable cause.

The lawsuit states that protesters were detained for multiple days in the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center and falsely charged with crimes.

According to the lawsuit, one woman claims she was held in jail for six days before being released after the defendants realized they had no case.

Another woman claims she was pepper-sprayed in the face during the protests after attempting to speak with a police officer, according to the lawsuit.

Civil rights attorney Sarah Gelsomino represents 15 plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit on Friday.

Gelsomino described the law enforcement response that day as an "occupation."

"The police immediately responded to the protest with such incredible and unjustified violence and aggression, it was completely unjustified," said Gelsomino.

An internal review of Cleveland police's response confirmed officers were overwhelmed at the Justice Center and that there weren't enough officers in other parts of Downtown.

RELATED: Cleveland releases after-action report for May 30 protest that details police missteps

It also noted officers faced a shortage of riot gear.

While a separate report by a federal monitoring team found violations of police policy in the issuing of dispersal orders to the crowd, as well as in officers reporting use of force.

A Cleveland police spokesperson declined a request to interview Chief Calvin Williams, and instead referred back to the department's report on the response.

At the time, Williams supported his officers' actions.

"From what went on that day, and what the officers were faced with, being attacked, I think our officers did a very good job," said Williams in December

RELATED: New lawsuits allege excessive force, false arrests during May 30, 2020 riot