EUCLID, Ohio- Euclid police officials say they are reviewing dash camera video from a December 2016 incident.
The video was released to the Fox 8 I-Team after a public record’s request was made. The video shows several different officers responding to provide backup after then Officer Michael Amiott and Officer Shane Rivera arrested Erimius Spencer while they were working off-duty security at an apartment complex.
The focus is not what is seen during the video but what one officer is heard saying.
“What did he have? I know it’s an off-duty thing but he said he was trying to take his Taser; yeah, that would be a damn shame, I guess, if had to shoot the ------,” the one officer can be heard saying.
The officer is heard speaking to another Euclid officer in the parking lot. The two officers were not involved in Spencer’s arrest but showed up to assist.
Euclid police say they were not aware of the officer’s comments and no discipline has been issued. They said they are now reviewing the matter.
Spencer has filed a civil lawsuit against Amiott and Rivera, saying the officers violated his constitutional rights. Spencer’s attorney, Paul Cristallo, says the officers used excessive force, stating his client was Tased and kicked in the face. He said his orbital bone was broken.
“I find what this officer said absolutely shocking, and disgusting,” Cristallo said. “To me, it sounds like they are expressing regret that they didn’t shoot him and I think this shows a department-wide problem.”
The President of FOP Lodge 18, which represents Euclid police officers, released a statement late Monday night saying Spencer “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 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 they 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, Amiott and 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,” Cristallo said. “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.