Cleveland Cops Caught On Tape Brutally Beating Suspect

Police officials insist there's been no cover-up.

By Asraa Mustufa Jun 14, 2011

A jail video in Cleveland has surfaced disputing official police statements on a booking incident from last January, where the arrestee claimed police brutality.

Jalil Anderson was arrested on suspicion of driving under suspension. At the station, police say that Anderson violently struck officer Martin Lentz with his belt, hitting Lentz in the face, at which point police forcefully subdued him, and Anderson was charged with assaulting a police officer. During the pretrial, County prosecutors subpoenaed the surveillance tape but were not told that it did not exist. The assault charge was dropped in April, and Anderson pled guilty to resisting arrest. But after an inquiry by the newspaper The Plain Dealer, police released the video last week.

The video shows Anderson removing his jewelry and belt, as is customary during booking, and throwing the belt on the table. It grazes officer Lentz who then cuffs Anderson. Anderson resists and then several officers begin forcefully restraining him – a much different sequence than what Lentz filed in the police report.

Internal police investigators are looking into the report discrepancies. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office is also conducting an investigation on why the tape wasn’t turned over immediately. Police officials said that videos are kept for 30 days before they are recorded over, however, a supervisor had made a copy of the January 17th incident that wasn’t known when prosecutors first requested the surveillance tape. They also said that the request was made to the wrong department. Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath insists that there was no cover up, but just a glitch in the system. Anderson told News Channel 5 that he was falsely accused from the beginning and wishes it hadn’t taken police so long to release the tape.

Lentz, the officer who filed the report, is currently suspended due to a federal civil rights investigation involving another incident, in which he and other officers are accused of assaulting a man following a car chase. He was also involved in a tasing altercation where Lentz’s reported injuries do not correspond to a photo from the incident.

The Plain Dealer recovered the jail video while examining police reports in use-of-force cases. Their investigation found that six Cleveland officers repeatedly used excessive force among suspects.