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Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP | Jun 22, 2020

Man Jailed for 5 Months Files Police Brutality Lawsuit

Categories: Civil Rights, News

Attorneys Jeremy Tor, Dennis Lansdowne, and Nick DiCello of Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP in Cleveland are representing Kenta Settles in a police brutality lawsuit. Settles was beaten by several officers in January, indicted for felonious assault, and jailed for months. A recent review of police bodycam footage that shows the entire incident led to Settles’ release and a dismissal of charges against him. In pursuit of justice, he has come to the Spangenberg firm to file a lawsuit against the five officers who arrested him, accusing them of excessive force and other civil rights violations.

Details of Settles’ Police Encounter

On January 23rd, 2020, Officer Michael Malak stopped Settles after receiving an apparently exaggerated report that he had tried to break into someone’s vehicle at a local pharmacy. Without telling him why he had been stopped, Officer Malak seized Settles and forced him against his police cruiser. A second officer, Robert Pitts, stepped in to help Officer Malak tackle Settles to the ground before he was shot several times with a Taser, beaten, and belittled. The assault only slows – not stops – after three other officers arrive.

Initially, the five officers involved in the case said that Settles was uncooperative, going as far as to say that Settles “punched” Officer Malak after being Tased. In Malak’s follow-up report, he claimed that Settles was “likely” to cause “injury to officers” because of his “larger stature.” Assuming that larger, black men are automatically more dangerous to officers is a form of racial profiling, a civil rights violation. It might be worth noting that Settles is a black man and all five officers were white.

Settles was charged with felonious assault of a peace officer by county prosecutors. He was jailed with a steep $250,000 bond amount.

Bodycam Footage Reveals the Truth

In early June, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office was able to review police bodycam footage recorded during Settles’ encounter with the five officers. The footage shows a much different story than the officers recounted. Only a couple of days after the footage was reviewed, Settles was released from the county jail and the criminal charges against him were dropped.

The Garfield Heights Police Department has been quick to defend its officers after the bodycam footage was released to a local newsgroup, Cleveland.com. Although, the story bears a painful resemblance to near-countless police brutality incidents and complaints brought up in recent weeks as protests against police and the murder of George Floyd continue throughout the country.

Injustices Must Be Met with Legal Action

At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, we believe in the crucial importance of upholding peoples’ rights and the preservation of an honest criminal justice system. As such, Attorneys Tor, Lansdowne, and DiCello are spearheading Settles’ lawsuit against the five officers. The case seeks to fairly compensate Settles for the undue hardships and injuries he has endured, as well as shine another spotlight on police brutality. The more people who speak up and demand that police officers be held to the very same laws they are meant to enforce, the stronger each individual voice becomes.

To learn more about this ongoing story, you can click here to view a full article from Cleveland.com. To speak with a police brutality attorney from Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP about an incident that you think merits an excessive force lawsuit, you can call (216) 600-0114 and request a free case evaluation with our team. From our law office in Cleveland, we represent clients throughout Ohio.