Lamar Wright is accusing two Euclid police officers of forcibly arresting him last year and "maliciously" filing false charges against him. He filed a lawsuit against the officers and the department today.
Read the lawsuit and watch video of the arrest below.
According to the civil complaint, Wright pulled into a driveway on East 212th Street "to safely use his cell phone" on Nov. 4, 2016. Two armed men approached his vehicle, and, realizing they were police officers, Wright placed his car in park and held his hands up.
Officer Kyle Flagg's gun "was raised and pointed toward Wright," as he stood next to the driver's door. Office Vashon Williams stood behind Flagg, his gun raised as well.
Flagg ordered Wright out of the car. Before the man could exit the vehicle, Flagg grabbed Wright's left arm.
According to the lawsuit: "Flagg yanked on Wright’s left arm. Wright was still seated in the car at this time, and had staples in his stomach and a new colostomy bag. This, in combination with Flagg yanking on his left arm, prevented Wright from extending his right arm toward Flagg. ... Flagg’s conduct caused Wright extreme pain. Wright cried out to Flagg several times that he was hurting his arm, but Flagg ignored him."
The officers then tased and pepper-sprayed Wright, before he had a chance to explain the colostomy bag and pain.
Wright argues that each officer "had the duty and opportunity to intervene to protect Wright, and to prevent the unconstitutional use of force against Wright. Neither Flagg nor Williams did anything to prevent this unlawful attack."
Despite the sudden abdominal pain, the officers forced Wright onto the ground and handcuffed him. "I got a shit bag!" he says to the officers between sputtering coughs on the ground.
As he was arrested, the officers talked between themselves. The interaction is captured on body cam footage, embedded below.
"Dude, I thought he had a gun," Flagg says.
"He started reaching," Williams says.
"Why the fuck are you reaching like that?" Flagg asks Wright.
"I told you I got a bag!"
"No, dude, you were reaching with your right hand."
"I got a bag!"
"What's a bag?" Williams asks.
"A shit bag, man!"
"OK, but what are you doing reaching for it?" Williams asks.
"I don't know if you're getting ready to shoot me or what, man," Flagg says.
Watch video of the incident here:
Wright was charged with obstructing official business, resisting arrest,
and criminal trespass. He was taken to a hospital, where, he says, the officers "mocked" him for his pain. Later, Wright was jailed. He paid "nearly $900" in bond, according to the suit.
"However, after posting bond, Wright was not released from custody. Instead, his detention was extended without lawful justification. He was transported to the Cuyahoga County Jail, where he was subjected to a search via a full-body x-ray scanner. ... Only after this scanning was complete, approximately four to five hours after bond had been posted, was Wright finally permitted to walk free," he states in his lawsuit.
Wright mentions that he also had to pay a $1,000 fee for the pepper spray stains on his rental car, which was impounded. "The rental company placed Wright on a 'Do Not Rent' list, and refuses to do future business with him," the lawsuit states.
Charges against Wright were dismissed in June 2017.
“I filed this case to stand up against police brutality, and to stand with other victims of senseless attacks by officers from the Euclid Police Department. These officers’ illegal treatment of people in the city must stop,” Wright said in a public statement. “We need justice for all the victims of the EPD."
Since Wright's arrest last year, two high profile incidents have focused the spotlight on Euclid Police Department's personnel. The shooting death of Luke Stewart was swept under the civic rug for months before the state announced that no charge would be filed against officer Matthew Rhodes. Stewart's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
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