EUCLID, Ohio– The treatment of African Americans by the Euclid Police Department was the subject of a protest on Monday night by members of the group Black Lives Matter, and the family of a man who was shot and killed by a Euclid police officer.
Organizers of the demonstration during a Euclid City Council meeting say one of their goals is to get city officials to provide answers to questions about the shooting death of 23-year-old Luke Stewart in March.
The deadly encounter began to unfold when a resident called police to report a suspicious car outside his home. An officer approached Stewart’s car and for reasons that have not been made public, he ended up inside the car and shot Stewart several times.
An investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation would later reveal that Luke Stewart was not armed. Stewart’s family is demanding to know how and why the incident escalated to the point where he was shot and killed. A family spokesperson told protesters assembled outside Euclid City Hall, “It’s easy to say ‘oh, we thought he had a gun,’ or ‘we thought he reached,’ and somebody else’s family is going through this.”
The protesters are also calling for a comprehensive investigation into the policies, practices and tactics of Euclid Police.
They point to a recent traffic stop captured on video that shows a Euclid patrolman using his closed fists to strike 25-year-old Richard Hubbard numerous times in the face and head.
Officer Michael Amiott contends that Hubbard was resisting arrest. Amiott, who resigned from the Mentor Police Department in 2014 after his superiors accused him of being dishonest about a traffic stop, has been placed on paid administrative leave.
On Monday night, protesters confronted Euclid city officials about what they perceive as a disparity in justice. A member of Black Lives Matter said, “Your officers are backing each other after they hit black people, not just hit, beat.”
Richard Hubbard is facing charges of driving under suspension and resisting arrest. His attorney told the Fox 8 I-Team that he believes the video of the incident is ample evidence that Hubbard is a victim of excessive force. “I believe if you look at the video, it speaks for itself. When our client stepped out of the vehicle, within less than three seconds, he was already engaged in a violent encounter with Officer Amiott,” said Christopher McNeal, defense attorney.
At the conclusion of Monday’s protest, organizers promised to return to Euclid City Hall, if officials do not answer their questions about the Luke Stewart and Richard Hubbard investigations.
A spokesperson for the Euclid Mayor’s Office told Fox 8 that Euclid Mayor Kirsten Gail has agreed to meet privately with the family of Luke Stewart.