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Garfield Heights police chief announces retirement after lawsuit filed against city

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 22:00:35-04

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — Just a week after an excessive force lawsuit was filed against the city of Garfield Heights and its police department for an arrest that happened in January, police chief Robert J. Byrne announced his retirement in a letter sent to the Mayor Vic Collova on June 18.

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

“It is evident that many want changes in police departments across America including Garfield Heights, I do not believe I am the best person to instill this change,” Byrne wrote.

In the letter Byrne sent to the Mayor he referenced the lawsuit and said, “I don’t mind saying that the events of the past week have played into my decision, however, I have been considering retiring before this.”

The lawsuit is based on Garfield Heights police bodycam video surrounding the Jan. 23 arrest of 28-year-old Kenta Settles, an unarmed black man, who was was punched, kicked and stunned with a Taser while he was on the ground as police attempted to handcuff him.

Jeremy Tor, the attorney representing Mr. Settles, said officers taunted and used profanity on Settles as he laid on the ground handcuffed.

Tor said Settles, the father of three boys, suffers from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD and is ADHD, for which he takes medication.

Tor said police bodycam video clearly shows officers didn't ask Settles any questions; who he was, where he was going, and didn't explain why Settles was being detained.

"This is another unfortunate example of police brutality against members of our community," Tor said.

“From the get-go, the officers approached him with hostility and in a very aggressive manner.”

"He was simply there to pick-up his psychiatric medication and another gentleman was also there to pick-up medication just misperceived the situation and he got concerned and he called the police."

The lawsuit was filed on June 11 against five officers connected to the incident, as well as the city of Garfield Heights.

Byrne was not listed in the lawsuit.

CLICK HERE to read the full lawsuit.

In the letter Byrne also reiterated that he stands by his “decision to support officers involved in this incident.”

News 5 has reached out to both mayor Collova and the law director for comment, but we're still waiting for a response.

Byrne's successor hasn't yet been announced.

RELATED: Lawsuit claims unarmed black man with mental issues was beaten, Tased, mocked by Garfield Heights PD

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