Cleveland, Ohio July 10, 2013. The City of Cleveland will pay $600,000.00 to Edward Henderson for injuries sustained when he was kicked in the head by Cleveland police officers on January 1, 2011. He was handcuffed and not resisting when he was kicked. The case was challenging because many of the officers at the scene refused to testify, asserting their 5th Amendment Rights. Much of the evidence could only be secured under a protective order. A redacted, public copy of the most recent complaint is here.
The attack was captured on video by a police helicopter. None of the officers have been disciplined yet. The United States Department of Justice is investigating the case for possible federal civil rights criminal violations. Mr. Henderson led police on a chase earlier in the day. He stopped his van and submitted to the police by lying face down with his arms out. He was then handcuffed behind his back. After he was cuffed officers ran up to him and kicked him several times. He suffered a blow out fracture of his orbital bone, permanent vision impairment, and other injuries.
Attorneys for Henderson are partner Al Gerhardstein and two attorneys from Cleveland, David Malik and Daniel Chaplin. They have retained a police practices expert, Lou Reiter, who has identified a number of policies and practices that contribute to excessive force by Cleveland Police Officers and a lack of officer accountability. As part of the settlement Mr. Reiter will provide to Cleveland model policies in several areas. A separate review of the Cleveland Police is underway by the United States Department of Justice.
Mr. Gerhardstein was lead counsel in Cincinnati in a police reform effort that lasted eight years. An effort is underway to start a collaborative for police reform in Cleveland. The attorneys noted that this substantial settlement is an important first step toward reform. The topics covered by the policies they will provide to the City of Cleveland are: (1) Taking statements from officers accused of misconduct; (2) Recording of witness interviews during Internal Affairs and Office of Professional Standards (OPS) investigations; (3) Early Intervention program for officers; (4) Data analysis following use of force investigations;(5) Citizen Complaints and related OPS investigations;(6) Radio Communications, Cruiser cams and body cameras. The attorneys state that clear policies and practices on these topics are critical to holding accountable all officers who violate the rights of citizens.