EUCLID – The President of FOP Lodge 18, which represents Euclid police officers, released a statement late Monday night saying a man who filed a lawsuit against the department “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 FOP statement reads.
The statement was released three days after Erimius Spencer and his attorney filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, saying the officers violated Spencer’s constitutional rights. Spencer is alleging he was kicked in the face and tased numerous times during a December 2016 arrest in Euclid.
Spencer told Fox 8 he was inside his apartment building last December when the two officers, who were working off duty security , approached him, found marijuana in his pocket and then forcibly arrested him.
“I had my arm behind my back,” Spencer said. “Officer Amiott kicked me in my face repeatedly. The other officer was on top of me and proceeded to taser me multiple times. I’m screaming, asking them to stop.”
According to the lawsuit, then-Officer Michael Amiott kicked Spencer with “such force it fractured Spencer’s left orbital bone. “
The FOP statement, however , said the officers were working off duty in the apartment complex because the area had some very serious and violent crimes, including robberies and drug trafficking. They said when then encountered Spencer they smelled raw marijuana.
The statement further noted that after confiscating the marijuana, Spencer tried to grab the drugs from the officers and refused to comply with police commands. The FOP states Spencer fought with officers and officers punched him several times in the face.
The FOP also maintains that both officers, Michael Amiott and Shane Rivera, were also tased in the incident and Amiott injured his finger.
“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,” the FOP letter states.
Spencer faced charges of drug abuse, resisting arrest, criminal damaging, and theft.
“The theft charge stemmed from Officer Amiott saying that Erimius tried to steal his Taser,”said Paul Cristallo , Spencer’s attorney.
“He also charged him with criminal damaging because when they were tasering him numerous times part of a piece of plastic broke on the taser -- that was one thing, and apparently Officer Amiott said his sunglasses got broken during what was essentially a beat-down on Erimuis.”
Spencer pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor drug abuse charge. All the other charges filed against Spencer were dismissed.
“Spencer’s possession of what was allegedly less than 1 gram of marijuana was the justification for charging him with drug abuse,” the lawsuit states. “It is noteworthy that Ohio law considers the possession of less than a hundred grams of marijuana to be a minor misdemeanor, not punishable by jail or even arrest, with a maximum fine of $150.00.”
Officer Amiott was fired in October after an arrest he made in August was caught on tape. During that arrest, Officer Amiott can be seen punching Richard Hubbard, who was stopped for a traffic violation. All charges against Hubbard were dismissed last month.