Mentor police officers accused of assaulting suspect during arrest cleared following internal investigation

Mentor police officers accused of assaulting suspect during arrest cleared following internal investigation
Picture from surveillance video. (Source: Mentor police)

MENTOR, OH (WOIO) - Mentor police have completed an internal investigation into a claim that two officers assaulted a man during an arrest.

On Jan. 21, James Buckley was arrested at 7445 Mentor Ave. Buckley claimed he shouldn't have been arrested because he had permission to be on the property and he also claimed a police officer punched him in the face after being handcuffed.

Buckley's complaint was assigned to two Mentor police detectives who interviewed all individuals involved, and reviewed all available audio and video recordings.

According to Mentor Police Chief Kevin Knight, Buckley's claim of being assaulted by the officers first is unfounded. Buckley's claim of being punched after being handcuffed is also unfounded as well as Buckley's claim that the officers used excessive force.

All three clams filed against the two Mentor police officers were "unfounded."

According to a letter sent to James Buckley on Feb. 23 from Mentor Police Chief Kevin Knight, "the punches and strikes used to place you under arrest were not excessive.

The use of force policy of the Mentor Police Department, which meets standards of the collaborative commission states that "the degree of force employed should be in direct relationship to the amount of resistance encountered or the immediate threat that a person poses to the employee or others."

Surveillance video sent exclusively to Cleveland 19 News showed Buckley, an employee of Vehicles Unlimited, entering the Mentor Ave. business at 5:36 a.m. on Jan. 21.

Ten seconds after the door closes behind Buckley, a police officer can be seen approaching Buckley's pickup truck and looking inside the vehicle with a flashlight.

According to the police report, the "officer was investigating a suspicious person in the lot."

After looking into Buckley's vehicle, the officer then approaches the Vehicles Unlimited door and motions for Buckley to come outside.

At 5:38 a.m., a second police officer can be seen entering the video frame. The second officer then turns and walks away, and reenters the frame about two minutes later.

At 5:41 a.m., both police officers approach the business and one officer can be seen opening the door.

The surveillance footage showed a struggle immediately ensues after the officer opens the door. It is unclear if Buckley crosses the threshold on his own or if one of the officers pulled him out.

During the struggle, the officers can be seen punching and kicking Buckley.

Once the officers get Buckley onto the ground, his hands are placed behind his back.

The surveillance footage then shows an officer punch Buckley in his face while his arms are still behind his back.

Buckley's mugshot was posted on the Mentor Police Department's Facebook page, along with a synopsis of the incident that says Buckley "punched our officers and was taken into custody following a brief struggle."

Buckley is currently locked up in the Lake County Jail in lieu of bond. His assault and resisting arrest charges were recently bound over to the Lake County Court of Common Pleas.

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