"What's he doing? What are the police doing, Mommy?"
Those questions, posed by a child, were captured in a video of a police stop in Euclid, Ohio, that showed the violent beating of an African-American man by the police. The video was taken by a bystander and posted on Facebook.
The authorities and the people of Euclid have been asking the same questions since the police pulled over Richard Hubbard III shortly before 10:30 Saturday morning, after they said he rolled through an intersection.
Dashcam footage of the encounter released Monday by the Euclid police is no less violent.
The footage shows Hubbard emerging from the silver Hyundai. After a brief, blurry exchange, the police officer on the driver's side, Michael Amiott, shoves Hubbard forcefully against the vehicle. The two men begin to struggle as Amiott kicks at Hubbard and his partner rushes around to assist.
Both videos then show Amiott crouched over Hubbard, who is lying on the street. He punches Hubbard in the head and face more than a dozen times over the course of several minutes.
The blows do not stop coming, even when Hubbard is completely prone on the ground. A woman who appears to have been in the car with Hubbard first tries to calm him, imploring him to "listen." Later, growing increasingly distressed, she tells the police that he is not armed.
The videos make it difficult to see the extent of Hubbard's response, but at no point does he appear to be fighting back with similar force. Eventually, Hubbard is arrested. He appears to be able to walk to the police cruiser without assistance.
The police said on Saturday that Hubbard "began physically resisting" as an officer tried to take him into custody after pulling him over for a moving violation. Amiott was placed on paid administrative leave while officials reviewed video of the encounter.
Hubbard's injuries were examined at the Cuyahoga County Jail, while Amiott was treated at a hospital, the police said. Hubbard posted bond after being charged with driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest.
Protesters gathered at City Hall on Saturday, and again on Monday, demanding a more thorough response from Euclid.
On Wednesday, the city's chief of policeScott Meyer, issued a statement apologizing for not responding more quickly.
"I can understand and appreciate the great concern and alarm of those who have seen or heard of the videos involving the arrest of Richard Hubbard III," he said. "I want to personally assure everyone that this incident is being thoroughly investigated."
"Our Officers are committed to proactively, conscientiously, and fairly addressing our very real crime control issues, particularly violent crime and gun crime," he added.
Euclid's mayor, Kirsten Gail, released a statement promising that the encounter would be reviewed.
"Violence and use of force in any situation is disturbing and difficult to watch," her statement said. "The videos of the incident on Saturday morning raise some very serious concerns."
The Facebook video that brought attention to the encounter, which was posted by an account under the name Lashaunda Malone, has been viewed over 7 million times. The video is punctuated by the urgent questions of the child as the woman filming alternately asks him to be quiet and expresses dismay at the police's actions.
Amiott was accused of a similarly violent attack last month on a black city worker. The worker, Shawn George, said that Amiott became aggressive with him and arrested him after he used his phone to record video of police officers arresting a teenager.
Local news reports found that Amiott resigned from the police department in Mentor, Ohio, a suburb close to Euclid, in 2014, after making a false statement in a police report.
Euclid, which according to the 2010 Census was a majority African-American city, has seen other episodes of police violence this year. In March, a Euclid police officer fatally shot Luke O. Stewart, a 23-year-old black man.
"This extremely disturbing use of force by a law enforcement officer employed by the City of Euclid is, sadly, nothing new," James L. Hardiman, the president of the NAACP's Cleveland branch, said in a statement. "We are calling on the city of Euclid and its police department to take this matter seriously, fulfill their sworn oath as public officials and eliminate the practice of using excessive and unconstitutional force."
New York Times
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies