Recently released body cam video shows two Ohio cops using their tasers to punish two brothers for not sitting down in their own home, even though neither of them were under arrest for committing a crime.
One of them suffered a collapsed lung, according to Cincinnati.com.
The incident left both men, who had clean records, with criminal convictions.
Cincinnati police officers Richard Sullivan and Lawrence Johnson responded to a call from Angela Brown, who called police to have her sons, Richard Coleman and James Crawley, removed from her apartment.
Their mother never specified why she wanted her sons out of her house, but Coleman says in the video that his mother is drunk.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer:
The men told city investigators they were at their mother’s apartment to help her grocery shop, with one saying Brown previously invited him to live there.
One of the experts said that the videos show the two officers actively escalating the situation instead of calming things down and eventually “using the Tasers as a form of torture to get them to do what they wanted them to do.”
“Anyone with any common sense can see the officers never give the kids a chance … and they immediately turned to a weapon that is one step below using lethal force,” said Gary A. Rini, a longtime police officer and commander from suburban Cleveland who now works as a police consultant and expert witness.
Following the incident, one of the brothers made a complaint to the Citizen Complaint Authority, which was created as part of the 2001 Collaborative Agreement to investigate allegations against police. Fraternal Order of Police President Hils requested that city investigators hold off on interviewing the officers until after the two men were fully prosecuted.
Officers Sullivan and Johnson arrived around 3:30 p.m. on August 8 to find Coleman, 24, sitting on the couch and his half-brother Crawley, 25, sitting nearby.
“What’s going on with you fellas?” one officer asks.
“We just chillin’,” Coleman replies.
Coleman then stands up, approaching the officers in an attempt to explain the situation.
But officer Sullivan orders him to sit down.
“I’m not going to sit down; this is my mother’s house,” Coleman says.
In the meantime, Brown shouts at the cops, “arrest these mother fuckers. They are no good. Get them out of my house” among other things.
The officers repeatedly ask Crawley where he lives, but he refuses to answer.
“Let me talk because here’s the situation,” Coleman tries to explain as his mother says “they gotta get out of my house!”
“You called the cops on us!” Crawley shouts.
Officers then approach Crawley, but Coleman stands in their way, cutting them off.
That’s when Sullivan draws his taser, pointing a red dot on Coleman’s chest.
“Move!” Sullivan shouts.
“Stop!” Coleman responds.
Sullivan begins threatening Crawley, then ordering him to put his hands behind his back.
“Are y’all really going to do this? We ain’t doin’ nuthin’,” Coleman yells, as officer Johnson pulls him to the side.
“Mama, you gonna let this happen?” Coleman shouts at Brown.
“Mama you are drunk!”
Officer Johnson released his grip on Coleman, who goes to grab his cell phone to record the officers’ abuse.
Johnson draws his taser along with Sullivan.
Sullivan begins ordering Crawley to come to him, threatening, “you’re going to get tased!”
Crawley refuses to comply.
“Get on it! We’re about to engage these guys!” Sullivan barks into his radio, calling for backup.
Sullivan then tasers Crawley, dropping him to the floor.
Somewhat calmly, Coleman pulls the taser barbs out of Crawley’s and continues to record the scene on his cell phone.
Johnson then tasers Coleman four times.
Each time Coleman removes the taser barbs, but continues his attempts to explain the situation.
“Why do you keep tasing me. I’m trying to explain what’s going on?”
Johnson and Sullivan eventually push Coleman to the ground.
“Mom, are you really going to let them do this? You just had three beers and were going to buy crack!”
“Get them out of my house!” Brown continues to repeat.
Eventually, Coleman and Crawley are led out of the house without being read their Miranda rights.
An ambulance takes Coleman to the hospital where he was treated for a collapsed lung while Crawley was taken to jail.
“She’s called the cops before on us when she gets like that. This is the first time that anyone ever showed up,” Coleman told the Citizen Complaint Committee after the incident.
Video footage shows officers never attempted to place either brother under arrest or warn them they were under arrest and they were never told they were suspected of any crime.
Even so, Coleman pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and received six months probation with the stipulation he find stable housing.
Crawley pleaded guilty to fourth-degree felony assault, and could face between two to eight years in prison.
“The magic words should have been ‘you are under arrest’ and at no point do either of the officers say that,” David Thomas, a former police officer, who is now an associate forensics professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.
“The brothers were not looking to fight. And after that first question, at no point did the officers try and calm things down or even try to find out what was going on,” said Gary A. Rini, a longtime cop from Cleveland, who now works as a police consultant and expert witness.
Both experts said officers clearly failed to follow the Cincinnati Police Department’s policy on deescalation.
It doesn’t appear either men has a civil rights attorney at this time.
Footage from the incident can be seen below.