Ohio police dept. officers charged with violating civil rights, using methods akin to ‘torture’

The indictments, which prosecutors say result from 31 incidents between June 2018 and July 2022, have left only two dozen officers in the East Cleveland Police Department. 

More than a dozen officers from the East Cleveland Police Department have landed themselves on the wrong side of the law after being accused of using harsh tactics to violate citizens’ civil rights.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has indicted 16 ECPD officers over the last seven months, accusing them of engaging in public corruption and inflicting mistreatment on residents comparable to “torture,” according to ABC News.

“I’m disappointed and I’m really upset,” about the alleged abuse, said Juanita Gowdy, president of the East Cleveland City Council, ABC reported. “This should never happen like this.” 

Prosecutor Michael O'Malley on Ohio police indictments
Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, led by Michael C. O’Malley (above), has indicted 16 officers from the East Cleveland Police Department for allegedly violating citizens’ civil rights. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube.com/WKYC Channel 3 News)

The indictments — which prosecutors said resulted from 31 incidents between June 2018 and July 2022 — have left only two dozen officers on the East Cleveland police force. Gowdy said she urgently requested that the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol provide much-needed help covering the police staffing gap.

Former police chief Scott Gardner, indicted in September on numerous counts of theft and fraud, is among those named in the documents. He has entered a not-guilty plea to the charges.

The prosecutor’s office and the Cleveland Division of the FBI announced the latest indictments at a news conference Wednesday, releasing footage from nine police body cameras showing the officers beating, kicking and stomping neighborhood residents. The 11 current and former ECPD officers arrested and charged under the new indictments were identified as Nicholas Foti, John Hartman, Tristan Homan, Laurice Mans, Ian McInnes, Tyler Mundson, Brian Parks, Tre DeHart Robinson, Brian Stoll, Daniel Toomer and Kyle Wood.

Several victims were allegedly handcuffed and appeared to comply with the officers’ orders to get on their knees when brutalized.

“People in these videos were giving up,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said, contending “they were showing their hands, they were not threats.”

Brandon King, the mayor of East Cleveland, said that a large portion of the evidence from which the charges stemmed came from upgraded, city-funded police body camera equipment with new systems. The fact that the cameras are not dependent on officers to activate them “lessens the possibility of human error,” he added, ABC reported.

In one video, an officer can be seen repeatedly stomping on a man lying on the ground while being arrested. Another video shows a cop ordering a man on his knees to lie on his stomach before reportedly kicking him in the back and sending him to the ground.

Other recordings include one showing an officer pushing a man whose hands are on the ground and kicking him in the groin and one capturing a cop punching a man after allegedly striking him with his cruiser as he lay on the ground writhing in agony from a fractured pelvis.

Another video O’Malley said he found particularly appalling showed officers repeatedly shocking a handcuffed man with stun guns and stomping on his head.

“I was appalled that we could be witnessing a guy handcuffed and his head stomped,” O’Malley said, according to ABC, “or witnessing a guy handcuffed and being tased while handcuffed repeatedly, which to me is a form of torture.”

Mayor King praised O’Malley for assisting the ECPD in rooting out the individuals responsible for the alleged abuse. However, he clarified that the investigations into the officers’ conduct began internally.

“The real victim here was the entire city,” O’Malley said, noting that the 13,586 citizens of East Cleveland “had to live in a city with fear.”

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