East Cleveland officer fired for stomping man’s head to return to force

I-Team

(Watch previous coverage of this story in the video player above. Warning: Some of the video may be difficult to watch.)

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – An East Cleveland officer who was fired after he was caught on video stomping on a man’s head is scheduled to return to the police department in 10 days.

The Fox 8 I-TEAM received a copy of the ruling on Nicholas Foti’s case. The ruling was issued by attorney Bruce B. McIntosh, of Cincinnati, that was sent to East Cleveland officials Friday.

The letter dated July 9 also orders the city to pay Foti back pay. Foti was fired in March. Officials with the Fraternal Order of Police, who represent Foti, filed an appeal. The arbitration hearing was held last week.

“It is my opinion that the lag in time compromised the due process rights of the grievant,” McIntosh’s ruling stated. “Even though there were five officers at the scene, allegations of excessive force were not discovered for almost a year. It is hereby ordered that the grievant be returned to the city’s employ as an officer with the East Cleveland Police Department.”

The excessive force incident happened on April 1, 2020. City officials learned about the matter in March of this year after a public records request was made for the video.

East Cleveland Chief Scott Gardner said the officer’s conduct violated the department’s policies. The chief said internal reviews are also being done on the other officers that were there at night to determine if they saw Foti stomp on the man’s head.

The chief said the man who was stomped on by the officer was stopped for traffic violations.  An attorney for the man said his client was injured and has a permanent scar on his head.

Gardner said Foti is set to come back July 19 and will be assigned to the Automatic Traffic Camera Unit. He said he also referred the case to the FBI and is not certain of the status of their investigation.

At least two East Cleveland councilmembers are upset that Foti will be returning to the force.

“He should not get his job back,” said Councilwoman Juanita Gowdy. “I am devastated.”

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