2 East Cleveland officers fired for alleged 'excessive force'

2 East Cleveland officers fired for alleged 'excessive force'
East Cleveland courtroom (Source: WOIO)
East Cleveland courtroom (Source: WOIO)
East Cleveland courtroom (Source: WOIO)

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Two East Cleveland police officers accused of beating a man and making him strip down have been fired.

It all began Sunday, when Jesse Nickerson stole a phone, according to police. When officers caught him, they say he had a gun. He was arrested.

Nickerson said Officers Denanyne Dixon and Gerald Spencer took him to Forest Hill Park, beat him, made him strip, and pushed him down a cliff. Nickerson was taken to University Hospitals, where hospital staff reported the crime to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

East Cleveland city officials say the officers were fired within 36 hours of the incident. The officers have not been arrested, though they may face federal charges (pending an investigation).

An agreement between the police department and the city of East Cleveland spells out some pretty specific guidelines for how officers are supposed to face discipline, even if they get convicted of a crime. The contract specifically says if officers could be fired for whatever they're accused of, they have a right to a disciplinary hearing with a neutral judge. It also says if an officer is charged with a felony, they're placed on leave without pay until after the court case wraps up.

These two officers aren't currently facing any charges.

There's also an outlined appeal process to any punishment, which could take more than two months to complete.

The contract says a supervisor can put an officer on emergency administrative leave due to an excessive use of force complaint while the internal investigation is going on.

According to Mayor Gary Norton, Spencer was part-time and not part of the union. Dixon was recently made full-time and was in the union under probation, meaning if he broke probation, union protections would not apply and he could be fired.

In court Thursday, Nickerson pleaded not guilty to one traffic violation and four felony charges (receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, carrying a concealed weapon, and having weapons with a disability). His bond was set at $50,000.

Public Defender Heather McCollough said the officers' behavior was reprehensible and completely unacceptable.

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