NAACP files lawsuit against Cleveland Police

CLEVELAND - Saying the case is disappointing "under the backdrop of our federal consent decree," the NAACP filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Cleveland man who was allegedly roughed up by police in front of his own house.

The officers had filed a police report saying the man in question, 22-year-old Shase Howse, had assaulted one of them.

"It's hard to assault someone when you're face down, with your hands behind your back," says Michael Nelson, Howse's NAACP attorney.

According to the lawsuit, police had stopped Howse earlier, and then again as he approached the house.

The officers may have believed Howse was trying to enter a home that wasn't his own.

Once he proved that was his residence, the lawsuit alleges that the officers falsified their police report to make Howse appear to be the aggressor "in order to cover up the mistake they made," says attorney Nelson.

The suit says the county prosecutor's office dismissed all charges made against Howse.

Two years ago, Cleveland agreed to change policing practices in a consent decree signed with the Department of Justice, and overseen currently by a federal judge.

The DOJ had alleged that the city's police force engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force.

The agreement followed a string of high-profile police incidents - including an officer shooting and killing Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who had a replica gun.

A DOJ report criticized Cleveland police in part for escalating situations that may have been resolvable more peacefully if officers had de-escalated them.

Attorney Michael Nelson says "de-escalation" is one of the most important parts of the consent decree.

He adds this latest incident shows the decree "is in its infancy" in terms of changing policing in the city.

A spokesman for the city declined to comment because the case is pending in court.