The woman who filed a federal lawsuit against a Euclid Police officer Thursday said she was humiliated and feared for her life when the officer allegedly assaulted her.
In an interview on Friday with News 5, Euclid resident Shajuan Gray, 46, described in detail what she said happened on March 27, 2017, when Officer James Aoki came to her apartment.
Gray said she was in the shower when she heard a knock on the door that day.
She came out with a towel on and saw Aoki outside. She cracked the door open and asked what was going on.
“He started shouting he was tired of me, got complaints about me and to turn down my music,” Gray said. “Which I did because at this point I’m flabbergasted. I’m shocked, like, what is this about?”
Gray said that’s when Aoki put his foot in her door and “barged” into her apartment without probable cause. She said he then slammed her against the freezer and arrested her, leaving bruises on her body.
“As he’s slamming me and pushing me against the freezer and refrigerator, he’s twisting my arms up in an uncomfortable position,” she said. “I’m telling him then, ‘You’re hurting me. Why are you doing this to me? Please stop.’”
In the lawsuit, Gray alleged she was only wearing a bath wrap at the time of the incident, and it fell off while Aoki assaulted her – exposing her chest. She claimed he would not allow her to get dressed before he took her to the police department.
You can read the lawsuit below:
Aoki did not have a body camera on during the incident.
Later, an assisting officer arrived, who was wearing a body camera. That video showed Gray walking down the stairs of her apartment in handcuffs wearing only a towel. She can be heard asking to be allowed to put on clothes and telling officers they're hurting her.
“So at this point, I’m screaming and yelling with all the mixed emotions going on, crying, just in disbelief that this was happening,” Gray said. “[I was] humiliated, embarrassed, disrespected, everything. Just ashamed.”
Gray also said after Aoki arrested her, he slammed her against the police cruiser.
She said she feared for her life.
“This is the point where I’m asking him and telling him, ‘Please let me get dressed.’ And I’m still saying, ‘You’re hurting me.’ Nothing. This man had nothing in his eyes,” she said. “It was just the worst day of my life.”
After the incident, Gray filed a complaint with the Euclid Police Department. News 5 Investigators obtained a copy of the complaint, as well as the findings of the police's internal investigation.
These findings include Aoki's account of what happened. He said he responded to Gray's apartment on a criminal complaint of "excessive noise" called in by another resident, and heard the loud music coming from her residence.
Police said Gray refused to provide her name and tried to shut the door on the officer. Police also alleged Aoki attempted to arrest Gray and she resisted.
"You continued to resist and the officer used the force necessary to take you into custody," the findings said, in part. "It was unfortunate that your turbulent behavior caused you to have a wardrobe malfunction, although, according to video footage and in opposition to your statement, your top was up and your breasts were not exposed when you were escorted outside of the apartment complex in handcuffs."
The internal investigation found Gray's complaint to be "not sustained."
Gray was acquitted of the charges filed against her stemming from the incident, which included resisting arrest, obstruction of official business and noise violation charges.
Her lawsuit, which alleges false arrest, malicious prosecution and excessive force, said Gray suffered and continues to suffer physical, emotional and psychological injuries, as well as economic losses.
The injuries suffered by Gray were "preventable" had Aoki "not engaged in unconstitutional conduct in violation of her fundamental rights,” the complaint said.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges the City of Euclid failed to "effectively" investigate the incident or discipline Aoki for "illegal behavior" and "false testimony."
5 On Your Side Investigators reviewed city records and found Aoki has been involved in 15 other incidents involving the use of force since 2016 — the eighth highest number of any officer within the police department.
Gray’s lawsuit was the sixth filed against the city for excessive force in the last two years.
Euclid Police has not responded to News 5's multiple requests for comment.