Police said they had perfectly legitimate reasons to pull over Richard Hubbard III as he drove through the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, Ohio, on Saturday morning.
Hubbard, a 25-year-old black man, had rolled through an intersection, they said, and a search on the 2011 Hyundai he was driving showed the owner had a suspended license.
It was a routine traffic stop. But it quickly escalated into violence.
A bystander captured video of an officer slamming Hubbard to the ground and punching him repeatedly before arresting him on charges of driving under suspension and resisting arrest. The footage went viral over the weekend, drawing some 6 million views on Facebook.
On Monday, police released dash-cam footage of the incident.
Both videos have left city officials, activists and outraged locals questioning whether the officer was justified in using such force against Hubbard, who appears in the recordings to be passively resisting.
“The videos of the incident on Saturday morning raise some very serious concerns,” Euclid Mayor Kirsten Gail said in a statement. “We have policies and procedures in place to ensure that all use of force by police are both lawful and justified. I can assure you the incident will be reviewed thoroughly and appropriate action will be taken.”
Police have said little publicly about the arrest. In a statement, they told local media that a “violent struggle” broke out after Hubbard ignored orders to face away from the arresting officer so he could be taken into custody. Police officials have not identified the officer but said he has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
“This entire incident will be reviewed, in detail, so that the public can have a full and open understanding of the series of events that eventually led to this violent encounter,” a department spokesman said.
The dash-cam video, first posted by Cleveland 19, offers the most complete publicly available account of what happened. It opens with a squad car pulling over Hubbard and a female passenger, who were riding through town in a silver Hyundai. After a brief conversation about the car and Hubbard’s license, the officer tells Hubbard to step out.
“Face away from me,” he says.
Seconds later, without clear provocation, the officer shoves Hubbard against the car and grabs him by the arms. They tumble into the center of the street, then collapse onto the pavement. A second officer rushes to help his partner. The passenger, a black woman, gets out and shouts at them to stop.
“Bae, please look at me,” she pleads as the officers try to pin Hubbard to the ground. “Bae, stop. Please listen, just let them do what they do.”
One officer can be seen slamming Hubbard against the pavement, then punching him several times. Though police would go on to say that Hubbard was resisting arrest, the video appears to show him lying on the ground and trying to block the officer’s blows with his arms.
Panic sets in when one of the officers says he sees Hubbard “reaching down.” Hubbard tells the officers he doesn’t have a gun on him, then screams, “Record this s—! Record it!”
Hubbard’s companion retrieves a cellphone from the car. One of the officers punches Hubbard eight more times in the head or upper body. Bystanders arrive. Then more police, sirens wailing.
Officers cuff Hubbard’s hands behind his back.
“Look at this,” one bystander yells. “He ain’t resisting.”
Two other officers handcuff Hubbard’s companion. “What am I under arrest for,” she asks.
The video ends with the pair being taken away by police.
Facebook user Lashaunda Malone captured a different perspective from the doorway of a building across the street. Her video opens just as Hubbard and the officers fall to the ground.
As the woman films, a child can be heard asking, “Mommy, what are the police doing?”
“Oh my God, he’s punching him,” the woman says.
The officer can be seen sitting on top of Hubbard and punching him at least six times on his face or head while his partner stands over them. Hubbard covers his head with his arms and writhes on the pavement. At one point, he appears to lie limp, then throws up his arms again as the officer strikes him several more times.
Later, as Hubbard lies on the ground in handcuffs, one officer presses Hubbard’s face against the asphalt while the arresting officer punches him in the back of the head.
Hubbard was charged with driving under suspension and resisting arrest. He was medically examined at the Cuyahoga County Jail Euclid Annex and posted bond shortly after. A booking photo shared by Cleveland 19 shows Hubbard with bloody cuts above his right eye and swelling on his forehead. It wasn’t clear Monday whether he had retained an attorney.
The arresting officer was treated at a hospital for unspecified injuries, local media reported.
The videos fell especially hard on the northeast Ohio community, which is still grappling with the death of Luke O. Stewart, an unarmed black 23-year-old who was shot and killed in March by a Euclid officer investigating a suspicious vehicle report.
On Saturday night, protesters led by Black Lives Matter activists rallied at the site of Hubbard’s arrest. Michael Nelson, an attorney for the Cleveland NAACP, was among those who attended.
“There seems to be some aggression and at no time have we seen de-escalation take place,” Nelson told Cleveland.com. “This particular video tape is disturbing regardless of the underlying circumstances.”
Demonstrators rallied again Monday night at City Hall to demand greater accountability from police. Nearby, residents met with local leaders to discuss friction between police and the community, according to Cleveland.com.
Local organizer Rian Brown told the site that Hubbard’s arrest and other violent encounters between police and young black men were part of a larger problem.
“The city government fails to respond to black folks,” he said. “This is nothing new. This is something we are seeing all across the country.”
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