CLEVELAND — A dashcam video of a traffic stop that led to a white police officer repeatedly punching a black man and hitting his head on pavement appears to show a different sequence of events than police had described.
The initial statement from police in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid said the suspect, 25-year-old Richard Hubbard III, refused Officer Michael Amiott’s orders to “face away” after getting out of his car Aug. 12 and then began resisting. He had been stopped for a suspected suspended driver’s license.
The dashcam video obtained this week in a public records request appears to contradict that police statement. It appears to show Amiott not giving Hubbard a chance to comply.
The Euclid mayor and police chief have since issued statements far more circumspect about the videos.
Cellphone video taken from a nearby business shows Hubbard being struck but doesn’t show the traffic stop or the first part of the arrest when Hubbard is taken to the ground.
The video has been viewed more than 7 million times on Facebook.
“Your own two eyes and common sense can lead to only one reasonable conclusion as to the propriety of the level of force used for a basic traffic stop and whether or not my client had a chance to comply,” Hubbard’s attorney, Christopher McNeal, said Friday.
The dashcam video shows Amiott opening the car door, Hubbard getting out and within a second of Amiott ordering him to “face away,” the officer grabbing Hubbard’s arms and wrestling him to the ground in the middle of a street.
The cellphone video shows Amiott bashing Hubbard’s head against the pavement several times and then punching him in the head more than a dozen times as Hubbard tries to defend himself. Some of the punches were thrown after Hubbard spread his arms out and appeared not to be resisting.
Hubbard is finally handcuffed with the help of another officer and taken to jail, where police say he was examined and then released after being charged with resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license.
Amiott has been placed on administrative leave pending a departmental and administrative review, Euclid police spokesman Lt. Michael Houser said Friday.
Police Chief Scott Meyer apologized Wednesday for not having responded publicly in “a more timely fashion.” Mayor Kirsten Gail said the videos “raise some very serious concerns.”
Both said the traffic stop would be “thoroughly” investigated to determine whether the officers followed departmental rules and procedures.
The ACLU of Ohio and the Cleveland branch of the NAACP issued a joint statement saying they are “profoundly concerned.”
“We are appalled by the brutality seen in these videos,” ACLU Executive Director J. Bennett Guess said. “This behavior underscores a disturbing pattern of extreme use of force by police in our state and across our nation.”
The police union that represents Amiott issued a statement to WJW-TV that says: “We stand with Officer Amiott and we hope that people will not rush to judgment, but rather will understand the literally-split-second decision and response required of our police and will let the administrative review process play out.”
Amiott was hired by the Euclid Police Department in September 2014. Houser, the Euclid police spokesman, said the previous chief was aware before hiring him that Amiott had been allowed to resign in April 2014 rather than be fired from his previous police job in Mentor, a city east of Cleveland.
The resignation came after an internal investigation concluded that Amiott had lied to other officers when he provided reasons for why he stopped a man for a suspended driver’s license.