EUCLID, Ohio — In November of 2016, Lamar Wright pulled into a driveway on East 212th Street to text his girlfriend. But soon after, Wright was pulled out of his rental car, pepper sprayed, and shocked with a taser by Euclid police officers.
In an opinion released Wednesday, federal judge Donald Nugent dismissed Wright’s police brutality lawsuit against the officers saying they had “reasonable suspicion” to approach Wright and to use force.
In his 25-page opinion, Judge Nugent said officers Kyle Flagg and Vashon Williams were justified in contacting Wright because they suspected he was involved with drug activity – a nearby home was under surveillance.
The two plain clothes officers approached the car with their weapons drawn. Wright told 5 On Your Side Investigators he thought he was being robbed, but quickly complied with the officers’ orders.
Officer Williams said Wright made a move towards the center console of his SUV when they demanded him to show them his hands.
Video from the officer’s body camera shows officer Flagg grabbing Wright’s arm.
“You’re hurting my arm, you’re hurting my arm,” Wright can be heard saying on the video. Then Flagg used his taser to force Wright out of the vehicle.
Moments after the incident, officer Flagg was heard on camera saying, “Dude, I thought he had a gun. Why were you reaching like that? I don’t know if you were getting ready to shoot me or what?”
The judge ruled the officers had reason to suspect Wright could have a weapon.
When the incident happened, Wright was recovering from surgery and still wearing a colostomy bag. He was unarmed and no drugs were found inside the vehicle.
He was initially arrested and charged with resisting arrest, but all charges were dropped seven months later.
The Euclid Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wright’s lawyer Sarah Gelsomino promised to appeal.
In a statement she wrote:
“This decision gives license to police to detain and brutalize people, in particular people of color, predicated only on baseless suspicion of drug activity. The Euclid police in this case fabricated a pretext to follow, detain, and attack Lamar Wright, who was not committing any crime nor in possession of any drugs. This kind of aggressive and repressive policing so often leads to civilians getting hurt and killed.”