Man files lawsuit against Lorain police claiming excessive force

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LORAIN, Ohio-- A Lorain man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Lorain Police Department, alleging police brutality.

In September 2014, Lorain police narcotics detectives, responding to a complaint about drugs being sold in a neighborhood, encountered Pele Smith, 30, a man with a criminal history of drug and weapons violations.

Detectives reported that when they attempted to arrest Smith, he tried to destroy drug evidence in his possession by putting it in his mouth.

Once Smith was placed under arrest, a third officer was summoned to transport Smith to jail. Under departmental policy, the officer must search Smith, but as they approached the vehicle, the officer suddenly grabbed Pele Smith and slammed him on the car, smashing the windshield.

Smith was treated for cuts and later released.

The incident is now the subject of a federal lawsuit, alleging excessive force by the Lorain police officer.

"Anyone watching the video is going to be.. it's horrific. I was unable to see anything in the video that suggests Mr. Smith was resisting arrest, attempting to fight with him, attempting to flee. I see what the same thing everyone else does; I see a young black man being raised up off the ground with his handcuffs behind him," said Mark Petroff, civil attorney.

Lorain police say there's much more to the story than meets the eye. They say Pele Smith is a suspected drug dealer and that he was resisting arrest.

Police maintain the officer intended to place Smith on the hood of the car and did not intend to slam him into the windshield. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing. The department issued a statement that read, "The video does not tell the complete story...although it is not easy to watch, police officers explained all of their actions in their police reports... during the arrest and Mr. Smith's active resistance, he was placed on the hood of the police unit to gain control and conduct a search, as per policy...the Lorain Police Department and the City of Lorain deny all allegations as outlined in the lawsuit."

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