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CPD officer who appears to strike protester also under investigation for pepper-spraying another

Protestor hit with pepper spray
Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 19:22:08-04

CLEVELAND — The 5 On Your Side Investigators have confirmed a Cleveland police officer is the subject of internal affairs investigations for two separate clashes with protestors outside of the Justice Center on May 30.

Friday, News 5 confirmed officer John Kazimer is under investigation after a News 5 tweet showed video of the officer swinging a baton at a man who was apparently trying to keep the peace between lines of police officers and protestors.

In the video, which was shot at 3:37pm, you can see police arresting a man on the ground near the front entrance of the justice center. You can see officer Kazimer, whose badge number 2229 is visible in the video, swinging his baton back and forth and yelling to protestors to "get back" as water bottles and other objects are being hurled at police.

Then a man in a gray shirt emerges with his hands out and appears to be trying to defuse the situation. At one point the man looks like he's trying to hold back protestors from advancing on the police officers and can be heard yelling "Stop it!"

Then the officer appears to strike the man with the baton three times in the legs.

The man responded by yelling at the officer, “Are you kidding me? I was helping you!"

Another man in the crowd can be heard saying, “An innocent man was just attacked. A peace maker was just attacked.”

The 5 On Your Side Investigators have now learned police are taking a closer look at a second incident involving officer Kazimer.

At 4:09pm, just over a half-hour after the first incident, an officer with the same badge number, 2229, was photographed pepper-spraying a woman.

Chris Taylor described the series of photos he took as "heartbreaking." Taylor told News 5 he went to the protest to document the movement.

He said he was in "complete shock" when the officer used spray on a woman wearing a pink shirt and polka dot backpack.

Protestor hit with pepper spray
A Cleveland police officer sprays a protestor outside of the Justice Center on May 30th

As you can see in Taylor's next photograph the woman uses her sign to cover her face.

Woman holds sign over face
A woman holds a sign over her face after she is sprayed by police officer

News 5 was also able to capture images of this second incident from a different angle. You can see the woman was in a grassy area near the steps of the Justice Center, holding a sign with her arms raised, relatively isolated from the rest of the crowd. Then a gas canister landed at her feet.

Woman hit with pepper spray
Gas cannister lands at woman's feet

Moments later an officer approaches her in the green space.

Taylor said "watching him walk out and away from the other officials felt odd, which is why I decided to take pictures of him."

News 5 also captured an image of the confrontation from further away.

Woman hit with pepper spray.jpg
Woman approached by police officer

Police are now trying to identify the woman in the photographs in connection with a use of force incident.

Kazimer remains on "regular duty" while the incidents are investigated.

The 5 On Your Side Investigators have learned in 2011 officer Kazimer was named in a civil lawsuit after shooting a suspect named Justin D'Amato.

In 2014, Kazimer was suspended for one day for improperly working an off-duty job.

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