In a story released this week by the Associated Press, one of Ohio’s poorests counties – East Cleveland – has been ordered to pay $50 million-dollars stemming from allegations of police abuse from 2012.

The monies will be awarded to Arnold Black, 52, who was arrested by the East Cleveland Police Department after he was pulled over in his pickup truck for the suspicion of carrying copious amounts of cocaine. 

This is the second lawsuit made by Black and his attorneys against the City of East Cleveland, Ohio and the police department. Reported by Black was originally awarded $22 million-dollars in 2016, which the city quickly filed an appeal for.  

News sources allege that Officer Jonathan O’Leary who initiated the traffic stop on Black, was asked to do so by Detective Randy Hicks, who had been following Black in an unmarked vehicle.  Officer O’Leary searched Black pickup truck for the suspected narcotics.

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The lawsuit that was filed by Black’s attorneys alleges that Detective Hicks:

“Began punching Black in the face and head when no drugs were found while the patrol officer held Black upright so Hicks could continue the beating. The officers then locked him in a closet being used as a holding cell.”

Black had also claimed that he was left in the cell for three days straight, only being given a single carton of milk, with no access to bathroom facilities or other food.  It was unclear from the Associated Press story released August 10th, why Detective Hicks thought there may have been cocaine in Black’s truck to initiate the traffic stop.

It is reported by news outlets that in 2012 “Black was indicted by a grand jury on drug possession, criminal tools and tampering with evidence charges.” 

In a surprising turn, Detective Hick’s appear at a trial against Arnold Black in 2012 to testify on Black’s behalf.  Hicks claimed that violence against suspects was the norm for officers of the department at the time of the arrest.

Due to a lack of evidence from the police department, Black’s attorney demanded the case against his client be dismissed.

It is reported that there is no dash cam video of the traffic stop that could be produced as evidence. 

In a 2016 article by Black’s attorney, Rob DiCello, “in lieu of a mugshot, which would have shown Black’s bloodied face, the police department fabricated an arrest report using the picture on his driver’s license.  Local WKYC News reported the charges were subsequently dropped against Black in 2012.

This is not the first time that East Cleveland and its police department has come under national scrutiny- having been plagued with high profile news cases over the span of several years.  In July of 2016 CNN reported that two African American police officers were fired after they assaulted an African American suspect in their custody. 

The Mayor at the time of East Cleveland, Gary Norton, reported to CNN that the city was “not dealing with an issue of race”, going on to say that the officers were empowered with their guns and badges.

In 2018 ABC News Channel 5 Cleveland reported, East Cleveland detective Joseph Marche, was arrested in December of 2017 by Bratenahl Police while he was found to be heavily intoxicated on duty in an undercover stakeout assignment. 

When Marche was arrested, he was found to be passed out in his unmarked police vehicle, and was taken into custody by Bratenahl after they broke windows in the vehicle to get to him.  The News 5 article goes on to state that:

“East Cleveland Police Commander Scott Gardner confirmed Marche was convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Bratenahl court, and was given a 30-day suspension without pay.” 

The news article reports that while Marche had used alcohol at the time of the arrest, he was also using pain medication for prior shoulder surgeries which resulted in the state the Bratenahl Police found him in.

At this time, it is unclear whether the city of East Cleveland will be able to afford to pay the $50 million dollars to Arnold Black.  In a June 2018 article, WKYC News reported that:

“East Cleveland was ranked fourth poorest in the nation, listing a 41.8 percent poverty rate and $19,953 median household income.”   

NBC news reported in 2017 that:

“More than 40 percent of its 17,843 residents live in poverty, almost all of them black.” The report goes on to explain that this type of poverty, leads to the culture that has manifested in the East Cleveland Police Department for years. 

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