I-Team: Woman says East Cleveland officers deployed pepper balls during traffic stop

I-Team

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A Cleveland woman says she ended up going to a hospital for minor injuries after being stopped by East Cleveland police.

Mikeya Woody said she was driving home after visiting with her mother when she noticed an East Cleveland police officer was following her.

“I was afraid and concerned, so I pulled into a gas station,” Woody said. “I am married to a Cleveland police officer. I respect officers.”

Seconds after she pulled into a Cleveland Heights gas station, the East Cleveland officer also pulled in, according to the police body camera video obtained by the FOX 8 I-TEAM.

“The East Cleveland Police Department received a call of a road rage incident where the female was supposedly shooting at a victim’s vehicle,” the chief released in a statement. The chief said Woody’s car matched the description they received of the suspect’s vehicle.

The officer ordered her to get out of the vehicle. 

“I told them I couldn’t, I was on crutches,” Woody said. “I was in the hospital for blood clots in my legs. I am on crutches. I have a wheelchair. I can’t move that fast. “

Police say they did not hear Woody tell them anything about a medical condition.

Woody says she called her mother on FaceTime while she was still in the car because she was scared.

“They said they were going to shoot my windows, I thought they were going to shoot me, I thought I was going to die,” Woody said.

Her mother said when her daughter called her, she was in shock.

“I saw all these officers there, screaming at her,” said Angellet Woody.

Moments later, officers deployed several rounds of pepper balls into her vehicle.

Woody says she has a bruise under one eye where one of the pepper balls hit her.

“I was having trouble breathing after because of it and had to go to the hospital,” Woody said. “Cleveland Heights showed up to assist and I was so thankful. I want to thank those officers because they helped me. They got me an EMS.”

Woody said she works as a security officer and was not involved in any shooting or road rage incident.

The I-TEAM requested the 911 call from East Cleveland police, but police say they do not have it.

“From my understanding, the call did not come in 911 but may have been transferred directly or by Cleveland Heights,” East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner said. “From my understanding, however, it happened. We have no recording of the actual call.”

Cleveland Heights officials say they did not receive a 911 call about the incident.

Gardner added they don’t have the recording because they are waiting to get radio equipment installed. He said the only recording they would have is if the call was first received by Cuyahoga County dispatchers.

Cuyahoga County officials tell the I-TEAM they did not receive a 911 call for the incident.

East Cleveland police did send a document to the I-TEAM listing the radio communications.

It states, however, that the officer’s body camera battery died at 2:18 a.m., when the pepper balls were deployed, but the log shows the call about the shooting of the vehicle came in at 2:20 a.m.

We asked the chief about the times. He said he thinks it is because the information was entered by two different dispatchers and one may have been delayed in putting in the information. 

Woody and her attorney say they want some more answers.

“This department is out of control,” said Atty. Tom Merriman, who represents Woody. “There needs to be an investigation to determine if this call really happened and how is it the bodycam died just when they unloaded?”

The chief said he believes his officers acted properly.

“The offender did relay to officers at some point that she was passing several vehicles, and one of the vehicles became upset and began following her,” Gardner said in a written statement. “The traffic stop was conducted in a pure textbook fashion of a felony traffic stop. Officers received a call relative to a vehicle with a gun, so this is what they would normally do. The offender rolled down her window, advised officers that she needed to get advice from someone by making a telephone call, and rolled up the window. At no time did the offender indicate to the officer that she had any type of medical condition not allowing her to leave the vehicle. The officers several times ordered the offender from the vehicle, which she failed to do. Officers used a less than lethal option of a pepper ball gun. They deployed the pepper ball gun, at which time she opened the door. The approaching officer gingerly took her by the hand, you can see this on the video, and placed her on the ground in order to be handcuffed.”

The report from East Cleveland police states the officer did a search of Woody’s vehicle and “no firearm or any indication of a firearm being used, such as spent casings,” were found. She is not facing any charges in connection with a shooting or road rage incident.

She was issued traffic citations for speed, driving under suspension and window tint. The report also states she faces a charge of obstructing official business for “refusing to comply with orders to roll down the windows and to step out of the vehicle.”

On Monday, police also issued her husband, the owner of the vehicle, with a misdemeanor citation for wrongful entrustment, for allowing Woody to drive his car when her license was suspended.

“She referenced several times through the incident that her husband was a police officer as if this would somehow excuse her failure to comply,” the chief said.

Woody, however, said she told officers that because she wanted them to know she respected police and was not a threat.

“I was scared, and I had no idea why they were doing all this to me,” Woody said. “I was not a threat. I pulled over when I saw they were following me before they even put on their lights and sirens. I was not being a threat.”

Woody and her attorney say they plan to fight the charges in court.

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