Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cleveland Police Officer, City Sued For Injuries Following Argument About Lebron James, White NBA Players

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM


A Cleveland man is suing the city and a Cleveland police officer for injuries after he was tossed out of a McDonald's by the cop who apparently was not pleased with his discussion about LeBron James and the lack of white basketball players in the NBA.

Charles Smith, the man bringing the suit, is Native American with "light complexion," according to the complaint. The police officer, Carl Perkins, is black. Perkins allegedly assumed Smith was white and "took offense to comments plaintiff made about paucity of white basketball players in the NBA" ("paucity" means "a small amount of something : an amount that is less than what is needed or wanted" per Merriam-Webster).

Here are the relevant portions from the complaint (in full, below):

7. Plaintiff Charles Timothy Smith states that on or about November 3, 2012 he was in conversation with other persons at the McDonald's restaurant near E. 55th St. and Broadway in Cleveland, Ohio. The conversations were about the contributions of Lebron James and the game of basketball.

8. Plaintiff states that on that date and place the defendant Perkins was also in the restaurant and took offense to comments plaintiff made about the paucity of white basketball players in the NBA and, mistaking plaintiff's light complexion as being "white", loudly proclaimed to everyone in hearing distance that he, the defendant, was tired of plaintiff's comments about blacks and commanded plaintiff to leave.

9. Defendant Perkins then forcibly grabbed plaintiff, pushed plaintiff towards the door and physically expelled plaintiff out of the restaurant, injuring plaintiff physically and mentally in the process.

10. Plaintiff, in a dazed and injured state, stumbled towards his home on E. 55th Street and called for an ambulance where he was immediately taken to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment.

11. As a result of the above described conduct, plaintiff has been physically injured, humiliated, embarrassed, inconvenienced and suffered great emotional distress.

The suit was first filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in November, but was recently moved to the federal court in Cleveland.

Read the complaint here:

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.