From [HERE] Two Cleveland police officers are accused in a lawsuit of beating a man and filing a false police report to justify the man's arrest and charge him with assault.
The Cleveland Branch of the NAACP filed the lawsuit last week in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Shase Howse, a 21-year-old man who police initially suspected of breaking into his own apartment last summer.
The lawsuit, which was assigned to Judge Hollie Gallagher's courtroom, accuses the officers of excessive force, malicious prosecution and assault and battery during a July 28, 2016 incident outside an apartment on Cleveland's East Side.
The lawsuit says the City of Cleveland failed to train the officers not to use excessive force. It also says the city's police department subjects black residents to a pattern and practice of excessive force.
On August 27, 2016 at approximately 9:00 p.m. Shase walked from his home on East 102nd Street to a convenience store located diagonally across St. Clair Avenue to purchase cigarettes. While enroute to the store and for no apparent reason, other than the fact that he was Black man walking in a “high crime area.” he was stopped by a Cleveland policeman and illegally searched. (Reminiscent of “stop and frisk tactics that have consistently been ruled unconstitutional by numerous state and federal courts.) At the time that he was stopped and searched he had committed no crime and the police had neither “reasonable suspicion” nor “probable cause” to conduct a stop or search. Nevertheless, he was stopped and searched and, after the police determined that he was unarmed and not in possession of any contraband, he was permitted to go on about his business.
Upon his return home and while standing on his porch attempting to unlock his front door, he fumbled in the darkness for his keys. As he located his keys, a Cleveland police patrol car was patrolling the area, driving on East 102nd Street. The two officers in the patrol car, who contended that they were “trained”, noticed Shase standing on his porch and, apparently, became suspicious that he might be attempting to break-in. (Apparently, attempting to enter one’s home on East 102nd Street at 9:00 p.m. is grounds for suspicion by supposedly trained policemen.)
The official report prepared by the officers described his neighborhood as being a “high crime” area and contended that they were actually patrolling East 102nd Street because there had been an “uptick” of felonious assault shootings and gang-related activity in the area. The police report also indicated that a “vigil” was being held in the neighborhood for a murder victim and the police often patrol such vigils because people that attend such vigils are known to be armed and carry firearms. (As ridiculous as that sounds, that is the position of the Cleveland Division of Police that was contained in their official report.)
While Shase Howse was attempting to unlock his door he noticed the police cruiser driving in front of his house and looked to see what was happening. After noticing Shase on his porch, the police officers exited the car and asked if that was his house and whether he lived there. Having already been illegally searched and being understandably upset, Shase replied that he did, in fact, live there and said “…what the fuck difference does it make and why are you messing with me.”
Apparently, the police were offended by the coarse nature of his language which, of course, was not a crime and, although he had reported that it was his house that he was attempting to enter, instead of verifying his claim, the police officers threw him to the ground, put cuffs on his wrists and placed him under arrest. In an attempt to justify their actions, the police did contend that Shase raised his hand towards them as they approached him which they interpreted as his assuming a fighting position. Shase emphatically denied that he was threatening the police although he does acknowledge that his language, although intemperate, was neither illegal nor threatening. While the police were struggling with Shase on his porch, his mother came to the scene and begged for the police to stop beating him since it was his home. Unfortunately, they did not stop and, following a struggle, succeeded in arresting him on the front porch of his house in the presence of numerous neighborhood witnesses. After his arrest, the police placed him in their patrol car and transported him to city jail.
The detectives took Howse back to the city's jail. They wrote in a report of the incident that they forcefully detained Howse because they thought was going to run away, the lawsuit says.
Shase was held in jail over the week-end and, thereafter, indicted for two felony counts of assault on police officers and one count of obstruction of official business. (Of course, it was Shase who was actually assaulted and the only official business with which the police were involved was Shase’s unlawful arrest.) Following Shase’s release on bond he was “recommended” for acceptance into a diversion program so that, following a plea of “guilty” and providing that he did not become involved in any additional criminal activity or receive any additional charges his criminal record would be sealed.
The lawsuit also says police supervisors did not investigate the incident to determine if the use of force was justified.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury charged Howse last year with two counts of assault and obstructing official business, all felonies. But the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office dismissed the charges after his first two court appearances, records show.
The lawsuit also refers to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that found Cleveland police officers too often used excessive force; the lawsuit says Howse fell victim to the same pattern of practice. In 2015, the city entered into an agreement, known as a consent decree, to reform its police department.