CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland man punched by a now-fired Euclid police officer in an August 2017 traffic stop that was caught on video has filed suit against Euclid and the officer, saying his constitutional rights were violated.
Richard Hubbard III and Yolimar Tirado, his girlfriend and the passenger in the car that day, said in the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court that they were “brutally assaulted and menaced” by officer Michael Amiott.
(You can read the lawsuit here or at the bottom of this story.)
Videos of the traffic stop, which was first released by a witness and later through dashcam footage by Euclid police, were widely shared online. The violent arrest led the city to fire Amiott.
Christopher McNeal, an attorney representing Hubbard and Tirado, said the beating was “one of the most egregious examples of police brutality captured on video” since footage emerged in 1991 of Los Angeles police officers beating motorist Rodney King.
The lawsuit seeks at least $3.8 million, the amount of money a jury awarded King for his lawsuit, McNeal said. He noted that cases like his usually settle, but said that’s his demand amount.
Hubbard, who appeared with his attorney for a brief news conference outside the Justice Center in Cleveland on Friday, said he feels depressed as a result of the incident and that he does not currently feel comfortable driving.
Also named in the lawsuit are the city of Euclid and officers Matt Gilmer and Kirk Pavkov, both of whom were on scene that day.
Euclid Law Director Kelley Sweeney said the city does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit says Hubbard, 26, was ordered out of the car after being pulled over on East 228th Street and that Amiott told him to “face away.” Before Hubbard finished turning, Amiott pushed Hubbard against the car, causing Hubbard to lose his balance, the lawsuit states.
Amott grabbed Hubbard’s neck and tried to trip Hubbard. He then kneed and kicked Hubbard repeatedly, according to the suit.
During the struggle, Gilmer used his Taser on Hubbard, and then both Hubbard and Amiott went to the ground. Amiott repeatedly punched Hubbard in the face while Gilmer held Hubbard down, according to the suit. Amiott also hit Hubbard’s head on the pavement and choked Amiott with his arms.
“After completing the arrest, members of the Euclid Police Department were observed by eye-witnesses fist-bumping one another, and laughing about the assault afterwards,” the lawsuit says. “One Euclid Police Officer, Daniel Ferritto, was recorded on the dispatch radio stating: ‘I didn’t know we would be having this much fun.'”
Hubbard was initially charged with resisting arrest, driving without a license and a traffic signal violation, but prosecutors later dropped them. Tirado also faced charges that prosecutors later dismissed.
Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail fired Amiott in October. His record in law enforcement is littered with disciplinary incidents for losing his temper, losing evidence and hitting a suspect with his gun, according to records in his personnel file. The Mentor Police Department allowed Amiott to resign in 2014 after he conducted a traffic stop without probable cause and lied about it, records show.
Ryan Miday, a spokesman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, said Friday that a criminal investigation into the incident is ongoing.
The Hubbard case drew greater attention to several problems within Euclid’s police department.
There was at least one other high-profile incident involving police use of force in recent memory, in which an officer shot and killed Luke Stewart in March 2017.
The city recently settled another use-of-force lawsuit against Amiott, though the terms were not immediately available.
U.S. District Judge James Gwin also criticized the city of Euclid in July for what he considered insensitive images in a PowerPoint presentation used to train police officers on force. He also said there appeared to be a lackadaisical attitude toward the issue, which has led to protests and calls for reform nationwide.
Gwin made his comments in a ruling for a lawsuit filed against the city by Stewart’s family. The judge ruled in favor of the defendants, saying that officer Matthew Rhodes’ actions were reasonable given the circumstances immediately before the officer fired his weapon.