EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team learned an East Cleveland police officer has been placed on leave.
It’s after city officials said he was caught on video stomping on the head of a 37-year-old Cleveland man following a brief pursuit.
“This will not be tolerated and I personally was outraged,” East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King told the I-Team Tuesday. “Striking a subdued person that, for all intents and purposes, was on the ground and I would say pretty much defenseless .”
The chief said the suspect was not seriously injured.
The incident happened on April 1, 2020. City officials said they just learned about it last week when a public record’s request was made for the video. East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner said the suspect was stopped for traffic violations.
“I know this is completely out of our policy and procedure for an officer to do that, and I believe it to be criminal,” Gardner said.
Gardner said an internal review is underway and Officer Nicholas Foti is on paid leave, per the union’s policy. Gardner said he also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the matter.
“Despite this disturbing video, I just want people to trust the process,” said East Cleveland Cpt. Ken Lundy. “We have an internal process.”
East Cleveland Councilmen Timothy Austin and Ernest Smith said they believe East Cleveland has an “outstanding” police force and are glad the chief is investigating this case.
“I want to commend the police chief for taking immediate action and being in front of what could be a crisis in our community,” Austin said.
According to East Cleveland Municipal Court records, the suspect was found guilty of misdemeanor traffic offenses and ordered to pay a fine.
Gardner said the internal investigation on the officer could take a couple weeks. He said the officer could face termination.
“This type of action does not represent this administration, does not represent this police force and this city,” the mayor said. “It simply will not be tolerated.”