‘Laughing while black’: Garfield Heights man awarded $80K after lawsuit claimed he was beaten, arrested in police brutality incident

‘Laughing while black’: Garfield Heights man awarded $80K after lawsuit claimed he was beaten, arrested in police brutality incident

 

GARFIELD HEIGHTS OH (WOIO) – Garfield Heights officials agreed Wednesday to pay $80,000 to settle Robert Spencer’s federal civil rights lawsuit, which alleged First and Fourth Amendment police brutality violations.

According to Spencer’s attorneys, he was beaten and arrested in July 2017 after he laughed while Garfield Heights officers drove down his street.

The lawsuit claimed Spencer was arrested for “laughing while black.”

The city also agreed as part of the settlement to “provide mandatory and adequate training to all active-duty police officers.”

According to his attorneys, the officers confirmed their motivation on videotape at the police station. “All you had to do was shut the f*** up,” one officer reportedly said. “We weren’t even going to arrest you.”

They told Mr. Spencer that “saying stuff to us when we drive by” justified investigation, arrest, detention, beatings and prosecution, Spencer’s attorneys argued.

“We commend Garfield Heights for promptly committing to addressing the issues Mr. Spencer’s ordeal exposed. Our constitutional rights do not enforce themselves, and violations can never be undone, but adequate training is a vital first step towards ensuring that citizens’ rights will not be ignored by those sworn to protect,” said Patrick Kabat, Spencer’s lawyer, in a prepared statement.

John Deike | December 19, 2018, cleveland19, “‘Laughing while black’: Garfield Heights man awarded $80K after lawsuit claimed he was beaten, arrested in police brutality incident”, http://www.cleveland19.com/2018/12/20/laughing-while-black-garfield-heights-man-awarded-k-after-lawsuit-claimed-he-was-beaten-arrested-police-brutality-incident/

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