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Woman alleges false arrest, excessive force by Euclid Police in federal lawsuit

Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 18, 2018

A Euclid woman filed a civil rights complaint Thursday in federal court against the city and a police officer alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution and excessive force. 

This is the sixth federal lawsuit filed against the city for excessive force in the last two years.

According to the lawsuit, on March 27, 2017, Shajuan Gray had recently gotten out of the shower when she heard a knock on her door. 

When Gray opened the door, Euclid Police Officer James Aoki entered her apartment without probable cause, pushed her over a freezer and arrested her, leaving bruises on her body, the lawsuit said.

Gray alleged she was only wearing a bath wrap at the time of the incident, and it fell off while Aoki assaulted her. She said he did not allow her to get dressed before he took her to the police department. 

"In violating Plaintiff's constitutional rights, Defendant Aoki engaged in willful, wanton, reckless, and/or negligent conduct," the lawsuit stated. "The unconstitutional conduct and willful, wanton, reckless, and/or negligent conduct was the direct, actual, and proximate cause of Plaintiff's injuries." 

The lawsuit said Gray suffered, and continues to suffer, physical, emotional and psychological injuries, as well as economic losses.

The complaint also said the injuries suffered by Gray were "preventable" had Aoki "not engaged in unconstitutional conduct in violation of her fundamental rights."

In addition, the lawsuit alleged the City of Euclid failed to "effectively" investigate the incident or discipline Aoki for "illegal behavior" and "false testimony."

It goes on to say the police department's training is "deficient" and "trivializes" the use of excessive force, citing an image used by the department in a 2017 training PowerPoint presentation. The image shows a police officer in what appears to be riot gear striking a person laying on the ground, with the caption, "protecting and serving the poop out of you."

Gray was acquitted of the resisting arrest, obstruction of official business and noise violation charges filed against her stemming from the March 2017 incidents. 

5 On Your Side Investigators reviewed city records and found Aoki has been involved in 15 other incidents involving use of force since 2016 -- the eighth highest number of any officer within the police department. 

News 5 reached out to Euclid Police for a comment but we have not heard back at this time.