Verdict Spotlights History of Dysfunction, Misconduct and Coercion in East Cleveland Government and Police Force
East Cleveland, OH – August 12, 2019 – A Cuyahoga County jury has awarded Arnold Black $50 million in his case against the city of East Cleveland, a matter involving brazen police misconduct that has captured the nation’s attention, even serving as the subject of the acclaimed podcast, Serial. Represented by attorneys Bobby DiCello and Justin Hawal of the national plaintiffs’ firm, DiCello Levitt Gutzler, Black was awarded $20 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages after officers detained him without probable cause, violently beat him, and imprisoned him in a storage locker for days on end.
The case started on April 28, 2012, when Mr. Black was stopped by two East Cleveland officers — a uniformed patrolman and a plainclothes detective — who handcuffed him and tore apart his vehicle in search of drugs. They positioned him on the bumper of his Chevy Silverado, and the detective questioned him. When Mr. Black was unable to answer the detective’s questions about who sold drugs in East Cleveland, the detective struck Mr. Black repeatedly on the head and face. After the beating, the detective ordered Mr. Black to be taken to the East Cleveland jail, where he was held in a storage area. The room had no windows, poor lighting, storage lockers, and cleaning supplies inside it at the time. Mr. Black was held there for four days without access to bedding, toilet, shower, or food. He was provided only a single carton of milk in lieu of food and water. All police reports, evidence, internal affairs documents, and dashboard camera video of these events were lost or destroyed by the City.
“Thankfully, Detective Hicks finally told the truth in trial about the policy and custom of violence that had existed at East Cleveland for years before they did this to Arnold,” said DiCello. “We are even more grateful for the courage that our jury showed in reaching a verdict, which rejects these abusive practices. The City leadership cannot ignore what’s happening now.”
This is the second time Mr. Black has won a jury verdict against East Cleveland and the officers in question, having initially secured a $22 million verdict in 2016 that was ultimately overturned by the 8th District Court of Appeals and sent back to the trial court for retrial.
During the second trial, East Cleveland was unable to provide dash cam video showing the events in question. Even Hicks, no longer with the department, openly testified against the East Cleveland government and police at trial. The jury was presented with evidence that there was a clear history of East Cleveland officers using force to compel information from witnesses and that it was standard operating procedure for officers to deliberately instill fear in arrestees and coerce them into submission.
“The government of East Cleveland needs to take action to prevent this from happening again. All my client has ever wanted was to keep others from going through what he went through,” said DiCello. “Arnold appreciates the time and effort the jury put into its decision and this verdict has restored a bit of his faith in people again.”
About DiCello Levitt
DiCello Levitt combines excellence in commercial litigation, class action litigation, mass tort litigation, catastrophic injury litigation, medical malpractice litigation, and civil rights litigation. Practicing nationwide—and internationally—from offices in Chicago, Cleveland, New York, and St. Louis, we are an aggressive, attentive, and creative plaintiffs’ firm whose work speaks for itself—billions of dollars in recoveries in some of the highest-profile matters in U.S. history. Revered by clients and respected by defense counsel, our team gets results.