Cell phone footage circulated Wednesday afternoon showing the end of an East Cleveland police pursuit of a black male on a stolen dirt bike. In the video, the male is seen driving around a landscaped area of a shopping center at Taylor and Euclid before crashing into a bush and being apprehended, pinned on his stomach by two officers.
The video then captures a third officer, arriving seconds later, who appears to punch the suspect four times. Witnesses and onlookers can be heard commenting on the beating. (Second frame of the embedded Instagram post.)
East Cleveland didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday nor a request for the full police report, but the department's Facebook page posted body camera footage from the first officer on scene in an apparent defense of the officers' actions.
"Apparently, this incident was purported on several various local social media outlets. As often, they are not reporting true facts, so I am releasing the body camera to show that officers did not run the dirt bike rider over, he fell off his bike because he did not practice his Stefan Everts moves," the department wrote in its now typical flippant tone on Facebook.
That the cruiser might have hit the dirt bike wasn't, of course, the chief concern of those who shared the footage yesterday (though it was a concern of the rider, as he says in the video below). It was instead the apparent punches delivered to a suspect who was already on the ground, on his stomach, with his hands restrained behind his back.
In fact, the suspect can be heard on the video, as it goes to black while the officer's body is against his, saying, "Y'all beating me up. Y'all beating me up. Y'all beating me up."
East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner told WEWS he saw nothing wrong with the arrest: “When you’re charged to make an arrest, it doesn’t look great, but these are the techniques we are trained in, and I did not observe any techniques that police have not been trained in. It doesn’t appear that any type of use of force was abused in this case, initially, that I’m seeing... Your hands are balled and you’re essentially making a strike, but you’re doing it to strategic locations. You’re doing it to major muscle groups in attempt to gain control to a party’s arms or legs."