Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Euclid Reaches $475,000 Settlement With Black Man Officers Tased and Pepper Sprayed When He Reached for Colostomy Bag

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 9:20 AM

Wright - SCREENSHOT: EUCLID POLICE BODY CAM FOOTAGE OF LAMAR WRIGHT ARREST
  • Screenshot: Euclid Police body cam footage of Lamar Wright arrest
  • Wright
The City of Euclid has agreed to pay $475,000 in a legal settlement with Lamar Wright, a Black man whom officers tased and pepper-sprayed at point blank range in 2016 when he was reaching for his colostomy bag during a police encounter.

Lamar Wright has agreed to drop his lawsuit, which was initially dismissed but then reversed by a Federal Appeals Court, in exchange for the payout.



"I filed this case to stand up against police brutality, and to stand with other victims of senseless attacks by officers from the Euclid Police Department," Wright said in a statement reported first by News 5 Cleveland. "These officers’ illegal treatment of people in the city must stop. We need justice for all the victims of the EPD, and I hope that my case will lead to justice and change."

Lamar Wright's case is only one of several high-profile police brutality cases that have plagued Cleveland's largest eastern suburb in recent years. The brutal beating of Emirius Spencer, by off-duty Euclid officer Michael Amiott, was highlighted on the podcast Serial in 2018. A case on behalf of Luke Stewart, a Black man shot and killed by a Euclid police officer in 2017, is pending.

News Channel 5 published a lengthy investigation of the department in 2018, (one of the most important pieces of local journalism that year.) It found that 20 percent of officers were responsible for 80 percent of the 273 use of force incidents in the previous two years.

Officer Amiott, from the Emirius Spencer case, also violently beat a black man, Richard Hubbard III, after a traffic stop in a video that went viral. Amiott was involved in 17 total incidents during the span that News Channel 5 reviewed. He was fired after the Hubbard incident but then re-hired by Euclid Police when an arbitrator ruled in his favor.

Officer Kyle Flagg was involved in 35 incidents, more than any officer on the force. He was one of the two officers who approached Lamar Wright with weapon unholstered on the evening of Nov. 4, 2016. Wright was on his cell phone in a parked car.

The interaction below, from Scene's first reporting on the case, has now cost the city of Euclid nearly $500,000.

Officer Kyle Flagg's gun "was raised and pointed toward Wright," as he stood next to the driver's door. Office Vashon Williams stood behind Flagg, his gun raised as well.

Flagg ordered Wright out of the car. Before the man could exit the vehicle, Flagg grabbed Wright's left arm.

According to the lawsuit: "Flagg yanked on Wright’s left arm. Wright was still seated in the car at this time, and had staples in his stomach and a new colostomy bag. This, in combination with Flagg yanking on his left arm, prevented Wright from extending his right arm toward Flagg. ... Flagg’s conduct caused Wright extreme pain. Wright cried out to Flagg several times that he was hurting his arm, but Flagg ignored him."

The officers then tased and pepper-sprayed Wright, before he had a chance to explain the colostomy bag and pain.

Wright argues that each officer "had the duty and opportunity to intervene to protect Wright, and to prevent the unconstitutional use of force against Wright. Neither Flagg nor Williams did anything to prevent this unlawful attack."

Despite the sudden abdominal pain, the officers forced Wright onto the ground and handcuffed him. "I got a shit bag!" he says to the officers between sputtering coughs on the ground.

As he was arrested, the officers talked between themselves. The interaction is captured on body cam footage...

"Dude, I thought he had a gun," Flagg says.

"He started reaching," Williams says.

"Why the fuck are you reaching like that?" Flagg asks Wright.

"I told you I got a bag!"

"No, dude, you were reaching with your right hand."

"I got a bag!"

"What's a bag?" Williams asks.

"A shit bag, man!"

"OK, but what are you doing reaching for it?" Williams asks.

"I don't know if you're getting ready to shoot me or what, man," Flagg says.

***
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation