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TPD officer being investigated for protest misconduct was accused of racial profiling in lawsuit by councilman's brother

The dismissed suit alleged Officer Melvin Russell terrorized Larry Sykes' brother during a 2017 traffic incident.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A Toledo police officer being investigated for his actions during the May 30 protests was sued last year by the brother of Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes.

In the lawsuit, Frank Prude, a black man, claims that he was racially profiled by Melvin Russell and two other officers, who proceeded to "terrorize" him during a traffic incident in January 2017.

The federal lawsuit was dismissed because it was past the two-year statute of limitations. But in the lawsuit, Prude alleged that Russell was driving a black truck and cut him off multiple times, then followed him to his home. He says two other officers in a marked car arrived and they asked Russell, "is this the boy?"

In the citation, Russell claimed that Prude cut him off, forcing him to slam on his brakes. The citation, however, was dismissed by a prosecutor.

Russell was seen on multiple videos sent to 11 Investigates swinging his helmet and hitting a black protester during the May 30 protests. On Tuesday, the city said that he has been put on desk duty, pending the results of an investigation into his actions.

Prude did not want to be interviewed, saying he is still too upset by the incident and that he is trying to move on with his life.

Sykes remembers talking to his brother after the incident but says he was not aware that Russell was the same officer involved in his brother's incident and the May 30 incident. He did, however, say that it is concerning to him that allegations were made against the same officer by two different black men.

When asked about the incident, Police Chief George Kral says he was not aware of it and had no comment about it or the ongoing investigation.

11 Investigates reviewed the personnel file of Officer Russell on Wednesday afternoon. He was hired in November 2010.

There are no disciplinary letters in his file. However, there are numerous "exceptional" reviews and commendation letters, including from 2012, when he was praised by the Terrorist Screening Center for helping to identify a terrorist suspect.

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