Officer seen punching man on video fired for rule violations

CLEVELAND — A police officer who punched an unarmed man more than a dozen times during a traffic stop outside Cleveland was fired for use of excessive force and other rule violations, the town's mayor said Friday.

Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail said Officer Michael Amiott was dismissed for the Aug. 12 arrest of 25-year-old Richard Hubbard III. Dashcam video shows Amiott wrestling Hubbard to the ground within seconds of ordering him to "face away."

Amiott had been suspended for 45 days without pay after an internal hearing in August and was fired two days before he would have been allowed to return. Gail said she received other complaints about Amiott's behavior after he was suspended.

"After a review, I found Amiott to have violated additional departmental rules, ... calling into serious question his suitability as a Euclid Police Officer," Gail said.

Hubbard was charged with resisting arrest and driving under suspension after the incident, and his attorney said he hopes Amiott's firing will help clear Hubbard's name.

"Today's a victory not only for my client, but for police accountability," said attorney Christopher McNeal. "Bad cops not only endanger citizens and abuse constitutional rights, they also impugn the badge that every officer wears and undermines the credibility of the entire legal system."

Amiott, police and Euclid's police union didn't immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Documents show Amiott violated police protocol by failing to tell Hubbard he was under arrest before grabbing him. Video and records show Amiott and Hubbard were tussling when Amiott's partner shocked them both with a stun gun, sending them falling to the ground.

The video shows Amiott then punching Hubbard multiple times in the head as Hubbard raises his arms. Amiott said in a police report that Hubbard was "resisting in a violent manner". Hubbard has said that he did not resist arrest, and that he held up his hands to deflect Amiott's punches. Some of the punches came after it appeared that Hubbard had spread his arms out while passively lying on his stomach.

After Amiott handcuffed Hubbard, Amiott requested an ambulance and was advised to go to a hospital. Documents show that Hubbard requested treatment for his injuries twice but was told he didn't need to be hospitalized and was jailed.

Cellphone video of Hubbard's arrest was viewed more than 7 million times on Facebook. It sparked outrage across the country and inflamed racial tensions in Euclid, about 46 percent white and 54 percent black according to the 2010 census.

Other Euclid residents stepped forward after Hubbard's arrest to express concern about Amiott's conduct. Amiott received four letters of reprimand and one formal citizen complaint as a Euclid officer but was never disciplined beyond written citations. He was cited for pistol-whipping a driver with a handgun, mishandling evidence, losing his temper in front of his commanding officer and being involved in two crashes in police vehicles.

Amiott had earlier been allowed to resign rather than be fired from another suburban Cleveland department in April 2014 for lying to other officers about why he stopped a man for a suspended license. He was hired in Euclid five months later.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office has said it's investigating the arrest and has conferred with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland.

Hubbard's attorney has asked a judge to dismiss Hubbard's charges.