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Friday, December 9, 2016

Cleveland Officers Involved in 2010 Use of Force Incident Just Now Facing Discipline Process

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 7:28 AM

click to enlarge Ortiz
  • Ortiz
Cleveland police officers Brian Kazimer and Dan Crisan will face a pre-disciplinary hearing on Dec. 16, 2016, for a use-of-force incident that occurred in 2010.

For years, police reform advocates and the family of Juan Ortiz have called for accountability from the Cleveland Division of Police.

The story, in short:

Officers responded to a robbery incident in the westside's Jefferson neighborhood. While seeking the suspects — one described as white and of average height, the other black and of average height — two officers spotted [Juan] Ortiz, all of 4'11" and Hispanic. Ortiz also has Down Syndrome, and when he saw the officers, he began to run.

When Kazimer caught up with him, he "grabbed Juan from behind, forcefully pulled him from his mother's arms, and slammed him very hard into [a] vehicle like a football player making a tackle," according to eyewitnesses. He held the boy against the car for 15 minutes. Ortiz was "not making any effort to resist" and was "crying out in pain." (At some point in the struggle, a nearby apartment manager told the officers that the wallet from the initial robbery report had been recovered. Neither officer responded.)

Kazimer and Crisan then hurled racist epithets at his parents and other onlookers. Kazimer told Ortiz's parents that they were lucky he didn't shoot the boy. 

Scene reported heavily on the incident and its lack of a coherent investigation. Finally, in 2016, some developments have carried this case forward. In February, a federal court upheld Ortiz's case, and, in October, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay the man $250,000, averting a trial.

According to Ortiz's attorney, the Civilian Police Review Board recommended discipline shortly after the incident. Disciplinary hearings that were planned to begin in 2011 were "held in abeyance" until the civil case wrapped up in court, according to then-Chief Michael McGrath.

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