A police sergeant pulled his weapon on two unarmed minority teens one night in August 2014, the same night of a car fire shown above. That decision is now at the heart of a $2 million civil lawsuit against the city and IPD. (Provided photo)

ITHACA, N.Y. — A judge approved an order for parties involved in a lawsuit regarding a controversial Ithaca police incident to meet in attempt to a come to a resolution.

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The lawsuit was filed in August — about one year after mothers of two black teenagers say their sons were racially profiled by Ithaca police officers on the way home from a basketball game at Cornell University.

The parties must complete mediated moderation sessions by Feb. 29, according to new documents filed in federal court.

“The Mediator shall encourage and assist the parties in reaching a resolution to their dispute, but may not compel or coerce the parties to settle,” the records state.

A police sergeant pulled his weapon on two unarmed minority teens one night in August 2014, the same night of a car fire shown above. That decision is now at the heart of a $2 million civil lawsuit against the city and IPD. (Provided photo)

All cases must go through mediation or arbitration before a case can advance to trial, an official said. A judge approves whichever decision the parties make.

The lawsuit seeks $2 million — $1 million for each teen’s family. The complaint names the city of Ithaca, Ithaca Police Department and Sgt. John Norman as defendants.

The teens had a gun drawn on them by a police officer in August 2014, were ordered to the ground and placed in handcuffs. The officers are accused of subsequently trying to cover up the incident by saying the teens were suspects in an arson that happened nearby on the same evening, the lawsuit states.

New lawsuit: Ithaca police racially profiled teens in 2014 incident

According to the new documents filed, the negotiations between the mediator and the parties will be kept confidential.

If the parties do not come to a mutual agreement, a trial is slated to take place next year, likely in Albany, court records show.

In August, Mayor Svante Myrick and Police Chief John Barber said in a statement, “The stop was legal, justified, and entirely race-neutral, as indicated by the City’s internal review of this incident.”

Related: 5 key points made by Ithaca police chief in department’s defense

Clarification: Several sentences have been added to this story to further explain the role of mediation in the legal process. 

To read complete coverage of the incident, visit The Ithaca Voice. 

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.