Earlier this week, the Euclid, Ohio Police Department announced that officer Michael Amiott has been suspended without pay for 15 days and ordered to enter a re-training program as a result of investigations following the release of footage showing Amiott violently tackling someone to the ground during a traffic stop on August 12th. In the video, Amiott was seen punching 25-year-old Cleveland man Richard Hubbard III more than a dozen times. Amiott accused Hubbard of driving under suspension and resisting arrest before the video came out. The police department said they made the video public “so that the public can have a full and open understanding of the series of events that eventually led to this violent encounter.” This move to punish Amiott in some capacity has led local authorities to hope it’s enough to assuage the anger of the local community, which has rallied together to demonstrate against the town’s mayor and police chief in the past week.
According to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, Amiott’s previous conduct will be further investigated, due to an increase in reports regarding people’s previous encounters with Amiott. For example, there was reports of an April incident where Amiott used unnecessary force while handcuffing a 16-year-old girl at a public library. Shawn George, a 25-year-old soccer coach, alleges he was tackled and pepper sprayed by Amiott just last month. George says he was recording an arrest Amiott was making of a white juvenile who was carrying a BB gun when Amiott confronted the African-American adult. According to the Associated Press, Amiott has received four letters of reprimand and one formal citizen complaint during his tenure with the Euclid Police Department despite never being disciplined beyond written warnings. Some of those letters stemmed from incidents such as pistol-whipping a driver with his handgun, crashing with other police vehicles and other moments of lost temper.
Furthermore, according to the Ohio News-Herald newspaper, Amiott resigned from the Mentor, Ohio Police Department in 2014 after making a false statement in a police report, as it was determined he fabricated an accusation of weaving in traffic after realizing that a traffic stop he had made was invalid. It was after his resignation from the Mentor department that he was hired by Euclid’s department.
Amiott was the latest in a series of tense police-civilian encounters in the state of Ohio. On Tuesday, fellow Euclid officer Matthew Rhodes was cleared of charges by a grand jury during a case in which Rhodes fatally shot an unarmed 23-year-old driver on March 13th. County Prosecutor O’Malley took over the role for Timothy J. McGinty, who was in office when a grand jury cleared Cleveland police of wrongdoing in the nationally notorious case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old shot by the police in November 2014. O’Malley, in conjunction with Lieutenant Mitch Houser, has ordered the police departments in the area to review its procedures and to accept specialized training in de-escalation in response to the rise in police misconduct over the past couple of years.