US man bashed by police awarded $32M

  • 02/06/2016

A jury has awarded US$22 million (NZ$32.2 million) to an Ohio man who sued the city of East Cleveland and police officers after he was beaten while handcuffed and placed in a storage closet for four days.

Arnold Black, a 48-year-old black man from Maple Heights, Ohio, sued East Cleveland after he was stopped by police in 2012 for suspected drug activity.

He was handcuffed and beaten so severely that he suffered memory loss and required brain surgery, according to Black's lawyer, Robert DiCello, and Cuyahoga County court documents.

A lawyer for East Cleveland could not be reached for comment, but the Fox TV station in Cleveland reported that city officials plan to appeal against the ruling.

The decision in favour of Mr Black came at a time of fierce national debate over the use of excessive force by police against minorities, especially black men.

According to the court documents, the officers thought Black's green Silverado light truck was a vehicle used to transport drugs.

Mr Black said one of the officers who detained him, Detective Randy Hicks, had been drinking and repeatedly asked him with slurred speech where drugs were sold in East Cleveland, according to court documents.

Hicks proceeded to punch Black, who was 45 at the time, repeatedly in the head as the officers threatened to put him in jail if he did not tell them where the drugs were.

Black was placed in a storage closet at the police station where he was kept without food or water for four days and forced to relieve himself in a locker.

"My client suffered mercilessly," DiCello said in a telephone interview.

A Cuyahoga County jury reached the decision on the lawsuit on Tuesday.