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Two young black men who say they were racially taunted by off-duty police and then abused by uniformed officers filed a formal complaint yesterday against Halifax Regional Police.

Nathaniel Fells and William Drummond were joined at police headquarters by dozens of protesters, a handful of whom stayed while the two went inside to lodge their complaint.

"I'm satisfied, it was good treatment," said Mr. Drummond, 20, after emerging from the building more than an hour later. "Better than the RCMP."

They were then headed to the provincial and federal human-rights commissions to file additional complaints, these against the federal police service.

Mr. Drummond and Mr. Fells, 19, said the altercation began late one night last month in Digby, N.S. According to the young men, they were walking along the sidewalk when, without provocation, a man standing beside a van directed the epithet "nigger" at them.

The confrontation escalated into a running fracas between the young black men and a number of strangers who turned out to be part of a group of off-duty police, including officers from Halifax Regional, in town for a charity event.

Mr. Drummond said that one of the men tried to punch him and missed. He swung back and knocked the man out with one punch, he said, provoking an on-duty RCMP officer to jolt him several times with a taser. The young men also allege that the on-duty officers ignored the actions of the off-duty officers, even as the latter continued to threaten Mr. Drummond and Mr. Fells.

Parts of the incident were caught on surveillance video, the contents of which have not been made public. They have been viewed, though, by Rev. Michael Fells, father of Nathaniel and a leader in the black community.

"You don't need to be black or white to see that something outrageous happened here," he said yesterday. "They were intoxicated, used racial slurs and physically assaulted our youth. We want to send a very clear message that those who enforce the law are not above the law."