EUCLID, OH (WOIO) - A police union in Euclid says a white officer accused of kicking a black man in the face and kneeing him in the groin used reasonable force to control the man when he resisted arrest and wounded an officer.
Erimius Spencer alleges he was mistreated last December after an officer found marijuana on him. He's suing the city and two officers.
One is Michael Amiott, who in October was fired for using excessive force in another case after video showed him repeatedly punching a black man during a traffic stop.
Spencer denies resisting.
A statement from the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge says that physical force is sometimes necessary to control uncooperative suspects and that in Spencer's case, Amiott and the other officer acted reasonably.
Read the complete statement below:
FOP Lodge 18 would like to clarify some details concerning the December 2016 arrest of Erimius Spencer. Officers Rivera and Amiott, were working off duty in an apartment complex because the neighborhood had experienced some very serious and violent crime; burglaries, shootings, robberies and drug trafficking. They encountered Mr. Spencer in a hallway and they immediately smelled raw marijuana. After discovering, and confiscating the marijuana found in Mr. Spencer's pocket, Mr. Spencer attempted to grab the drugs from the officers. After being advised that he was under arrest, Mr. Spencer refused to comply with the police commands to put his hands behind his back. As Mr. Spencer repeatedly reached into his pockets and stiffened his body, officers kneed him in the leg and tried to take him to the ground. He fought this off and officers punched him several times in the face. The strikes had no effect and, Mr. Spencer knocked off and broke Officer Amiott's eyeglasses. He fought over and was able to damage Officer Amiott's TASER. Mr. Spencer injured Officer Amiott's finger and both officers were TASERed in the process. Officer Rivera broke away and attempted to utilize his TASER to control Mr. Spencer's violent resistance, but it had no effect. The officers punched Mr. Spencer several more times before they were finally able to gain control of Mr. Spencer and take him into custody. Once in custody, Mr. Spencer was provided medical attention by the Euclid Fire Department.
As police officers, we are tasked with and have been sworn to enforce the law. Occasionally, we come across individuals who, after violating the law, escalate the situation — making it worse (and more dangerous) for both the suspect and the officers — by resisting or fighting with the police.
The United States Supreme Court set the standard for "reasonableness" of using force in Graham v. Connor.
"The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation."
In Mr. Spencer's case, a reasonable amount of force was applied to a suspect who was actively fighting with and had injured a police officer.
Mr. Spencer had his day in court. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the prosecutor, as occurs in the majority of criminal cases, some charges were dropped. Mr. Spencer then plead guilty to drug possession. Now, Mr. Spencer has filed a lawsuit against the City and the officers, even though it was his actions that precipitated the force used by the officers. It is extremely frustrating to see the City have to spend resources to defend officers who are lawfully performing their duty and fight to protect the tax dollars contributed by the hard working men and women who live and work here.
The use of any force and its result is never pretty, but it is sometimes necessary. If we are to maintain social order, and keep our streets and neighborhoods safe, then when suspects resist with violence, police officers will need to use reasonable force. As in this case, technology such as the TASER helps, but it is not always effective. This then results in officers having to use physical force to control suspects.
The officers of the Euclid Police Department will continue to serve our community with honor and courage.
Patrolman D. Trend
President, FOP Lodge #18