Cleveland Man Awarded $22M After Being Brutally Beaten, Locked in Closet for Several Days by Police

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2010
Arnold Black, 48, was awarded $22 million after suing East Cleveland Police for beating and locking him in a closet in 2012. Photo courtesy of Fox 8 Cleveland.
Arnold Black, 48, was awarded $22 million after suing East Cleveland Police for beating and locking him in a closet in 2012. Photo courtesy of Fox 8 Cleveland.

An Ohio man is set to receive $22 million following a 2012 ordeal with police that left him badly beaten and trapped in a closet for several days.

According to Cleveland’s Fox 8, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court jury awarded Arnold Black $22 million Tuesday after he sued East Cleveland police for beating him and locking him in a closet. Black, 48, says he was detained in a storage closet for four days with no access to water, a toilet, or food (except for a carton of milk).

The jury took only one day to deliberate before announcing their verdict in Black’s three-day civil case, Talking Points memo reports. Family members of the Cleveland man say he suffered physical and emotional injuries from the beating and underwent surgery to remove dried blood from his brain.

Surprisingly, the trial was held without legal representation from East Cleveland, which posed a problem for city Law Director Willa Mae Hemmons. According to Fox 8, Hemmons filed an an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court before Black’s trial even began. She didn’t show up to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court during the trial because she felt the lower court had lost jurisdiction by that time.

Hemmons doesn’t agree with the jury’s verdict either and says their decision probably won’t hold up.

“The verdict is over the top,” she said. “Tamir Rice died, and the family only got $6 million. This guy is walking around.”

Black says he was driving around the city in his pickup truck when officers Jonathan O’Leary and Randy Hicks pulled him over and inquired about where they could find drug dealers in the area, Fox 8 reports. The officers claimed they were on the lookout for a green pickup carrying a kilogram of cocaine.

According to the lawsuit, Hicks appeared to be drunk, as his speech was slurred and breath smelled of alcohol.

“I was at a bar with friends. You messed up my night,” Hicks allegedly told the driver.

The lawsuit then accuses the drunken officer of punching Black in the head, handcuffing him, and punching him again, all while officer O’Leary stood by and did nothing.

“The officer … grabbed me like this,” Black told Fox 8 while gesturing with his hands. “And he held me up, and — Boom! — I just remember getting hit.”

After the beating, Hicks and O’Leary took the Cleveland man to jail. Rather than place him in a holding cell, the officers locked Black in a storage closet instead, in an effort to conceal his injuries.

Black testified he was kept in the tiny closet for a total of four days with no access to basic facilities, like a toilet or shower.

“I knocked on the door and was like, ‘Can anybody hear me? Can anybody? I’ve got to use the bathroom,’” he recalled. “Nobody ever answered.”

According to Talking Points Memo, Black said a jail guard provided him with a carton of milk the second day he was detained and even let him call his girlfriend, who was looking for him. After four long days in confinement, he was finally transported to the Cuyahoga County Jail on May 2, 2012 and quickly released on bond, the news site reports.

Two months later, however, Black was indicted on cocaine charges. Per the New York Daily News, the case was later thrown out due to lack of evidentiary support. Black filed his suit against the East Cleveland Police in 2014.

The jury award includes $10 million in compensatory damage against East Cleveland police, Hicks, O’Leary and Police Chief Ralph Spotts, Talking Points Memo reports. Black will receive $11 million in punitive damages against Spotts and another $1 million against O’Leary.

According to Fox 8, the officers involved in the case no longer work for the East Cleveland Police Department.

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