The city of Garfield Heights agreed to pay $80,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a black man, Robert Spencer, who was arrested after laughing at police officers in July 2017.
The settlement also requires the city to train its officers on the First Amendment and on limitations on forced labor by inmates, according to Spencer’s lawyers, notes the Plain Dealer.
Officers Kenneth Falzini and David Simia claimed that Spencer threatened and shoved one of them, and resisted arrest, but a jury acquitted Spencer of the charges.
A video filmed by Spencer’s girlfriend appeared to contradict some of the claims made by the officers.
Spencer called the officers “Beavis & Butthead” and “Elvis,” and said, “Y’all got the motherf—–g right to remain rank.”
Spencer’s girlfriend told officers that Spencer never threatened harm and was just “out here talking bullsh–t with the kids.”
Spencer, who has prior felony convictions on weapons charges, said in his lawsuit that he “was arrested and prosecuted for laughing while black.”
The lawsuit said that Simia told Spencer in the police car: “All you had to do was shut the f–k up. We weren’t even going to arrest you.”
Spencer said he was jailed for three days, and was forced by a female corrections officer who threatened to use pepper spray on him.
(Source: Plain Dealer)