Resident files lawsuit against Cleveland Police claiming he was profiled and arrested while picking up groceries day after May riots

Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 10:23 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Eight months after the downtown riots, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed against six Cleveland Police officers and the city.

A downtown Cleveland resident says he was profiled and arrested by police while walking to pick up groceries the day after the riots at 4:17 p.m.

Mehdi Mollahasani tells 19 News he did not attend the Black Lives Matter protest and riots in May, but feels he became a victim of it after Cleveland Police arrested him in the area of East 13th Street and Euclid Avenue.

The 38-year-old creative advertising strategist, who has no prior arrest record, says he was walking to pick up groceries from an Instacart delivery person who called and said she wasn’t allowed into the downtown due to the curfew.

“Just being stereotyped, the way I was treated in the middle of a pandemic, none of this should have happened,” Mollahasani said.

Mollahasani says as he was walking, he was stopped not once but twice by Cleveland Police officers.

The first officer simply asked where he was going and left.

But Mollahasani says a second group of officers surrounded him a few minutes later, “They said, ‘we’re not playing around. Give us your ID.’”

Frightened, the Cleveland man who has lived downtown for about three years says he showed his ID that had his old New York address, and then he showed a pay stub with his current Cleveland address, along with the Instacart order he was trying to pick up.

He tells 19 News that’s when he was arrested and thrown into the Cuyahoga County Jail for 52 hours, even though the delivery person he was there to meet was nearby with another group of officers.

“The officer putting me in handcuffs took my pay stub to his sergeant and said hey, his address is here in Cleveland. He said it doesn’t matter, arrest him,” Mollahasani said.

But most unsettling and disturbing to Mollahasani, he felt profiled because of his brown skin and the way he was dressed in all black, including a black suit jacket.

Black is what the downtown man says he wears every single day, “They were kind of like you look like a looter.”

He was never actually charged with a crime until one week after his arrest.

Attorney Eric Long with the law firm Friedman & Nemecek, L.L.C. says that alone should raise questions, “I think it’s reasonable to question whether the decision a week later was in an effort to clean up the mess that they (police) had made.”

The charge was ultimately dismissed by the prosecutor for no probable cause.

Attorney Sarah Gelsomino of the law firm Friedman, Gilbert, and Gerhardstein says this arrest should concern everyone who lives and works in Cleveland. “Mehdi isn’t the only one in danger here - every single person walking the streets of Cleveland is at risk when you have officers like that who can so blatantly violate the law and not face any consequences.”

Mollahasani says there were plenty of others out walking around downtown, and they would just show an ID and keep walking.

He says those people were white.

To be fair 19 News asked the city for comment - but so far, no reply.

Mollahasani says after being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail -- he was further separated from his family because he had to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks to make sure he did not catch the coronavirus while in lock up.

Copyright 2021 WOIO. All rights reserved.