CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland police officer is on restricted duty while internal affairs investigates an incident where he hit a handcuffed woman who spit on police officers.
Det. David Shapiro, an 18-year veteran of the department, will handle paperwork and other in-office tasks until internal investigators determine exactly what happened, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said.
Other officers involved in the arrest of Ciara Perez-Rodriguez also were put on administrative duties, Williams said. A bystander’s video garnered widespread attention.
Shapiro — whose father, Cleveland police officer William Shapiro, was shot and killed by Anthony Roden in 1974 — wrote in his report that he grabbed Perez-Rodriguez’s face to stop her from spitting at other officers.
That Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis said the officer did not punch Perez-Rodriguez and was trying to keep her from spitting on other officers.
Perez-Rodriguez, who suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, is charged with assaulting a police officer, a fourth-degree felony.
She said in a brief interview that she spit and threw a Pepsi bottle or can at police officers who went to West 80th street to conduct an arrest sweep of 10 people linked to several shootings and drug dealing.
The container hit a police cruiser and sprayed pop on several officers, according to police reports. Four guns and several grams of heroin were seized during the investigation, police reports say.
Shapiro wrote in his report that he saw Perez-Rodriguez throw a can of soda at the car. He told her that she was under arrest. Shapiro wrote he didn’t have a pair of handcuffs so he grabbed her arms and escorted her to the nearest cruiser.
Perez-Rodriguez fought with him and spit in his face and another officers. He said he grabbed her face to prevent her from spitting. He handcuffed her and she continued to fight.
She then spit at a sergeant and kicked Shapiro two more times, once in the shin and once in the groin, Shapiro’s report says. Perez-Rodriguez denied accusations that she kicked or hit any officers during the altercation.
The incident touches on two issues the U.S. Justice Department found during an investigation of the pattern and practices of the city’s police department.
The Justice Department’s 2014 report on the police department that led to the consent decree said the Cleveland officers routinely attacked suspects in handcuffs.
The report highlighted several examples:
- Edward Henderson, who led police on a six minute car chase, was repeatedly kicked and hit by officers after he laid on the ground following police orders. Helicopter video showed the officers punched him and kicked after he was on his stomach. Henderson suffered a broken orbital bone and later won a $600,000 settlement from the city. None of the officers were charged criminally.
- A 13-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of shoplifting kicked an officer in the leg and the door to the police cruiser. He was handcuffed when the officer sat on his legs and punched the boy in the face at least three times.
The report also said Cleveland police needed more extensive training when dealing with citizens suffering from mental illnesses. It is unknown if the officers knew Perez-Rodriguez suffered from bipolar and schizophrenia. They were not targeting her as part of the arrest sweep.
“Officers too often use unreasonable force against individuals with mental illness, individuals in medical crisis and individuals with impaired faculties,” according to the Justice Department’s report.