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Ohio police officer fired; video showed officer beating driver after traffic stop

A police officer in a Cleveland suburb seen on video repeatedly punching a black motorist during a traffic stop in August has been fired.

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Lauren del Valle (CNN)
(CNN) — A police officer in a Cleveland suburb seen on video repeatedly punching a black motorist during a traffic stop in August has been fired.

City of Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail announced Officer Michael Amiott's termination, citing police department rules violations and "additional complaints."

"After a review, I found Amiott to have violated additional departmental rules, including Conduct Unbecoming and Courtesy, calling into serious question his suitability as a Euclid police officer," Gail said in a statement.

Euclid Police Chief Scott Meyer first issued Amiott, who is white, the longest possible suspension of 15 days after the dash cam footage came to light. Gail extended that suspension another 30 days before ultimately terminating Amiott on October 13.

The mayor and police department declined to comment further.

Meyer, in a statement when the video first came to light in August, said he can "understand and appreciate the great concern and alarm of those who have seen or heard of the videos."

The Cleveland Branch NAACP said in a statement to CNN it applauds Gail's actions in terminating Amiott's employment, calling it "a step in the right direction."

"The beating of Richard Hubbard III by Officer Michael Amiott that was captured on video was just one of many incidents that has drawn negative attention to the worst aspects of policing in Euclid," Cleveland Branch NAACP President James Hardiman said in the statement.

The video surfaced as community tensions with the Euclid Police Department ran high because of another excessive force controversy. A grand jury decided not to bring charges against another Euclid police officer in late August in connection with the fatal shooting of an unarmed 23-year-old in March of this year.

The Ohio Attorney General, serving as special prosecutor in the case, ruled that the officer would not be charged after investigating the incident, CNN confirmed.

The dash cam footage

Video of the August 12 traffic stop, released by the Euclid Police Department, shows Amiott and another officer attempting to handcuff Richard Hubbard III and punching him repeatedly. The suspect appears to continually resist arrest in a tussle that lasts more than three minutes.

The female passenger in the video, Hubbard's girlfriend Yolimar Tirado Caraballo, gets down low and slaps the ground as she screams at Hubbard to stop resisting. He does not.

"Bae, stop! Bae, listen to me," Tirado Caraballo says repeatedly.

"Just let them do what they do, bae," she implores.

The officers are heard repeatedly yelling, "Stop fighting."

Hubbard is asked to roll over on his stomach. He doesn't.

He is heard telling his girlfriend to capture the altercation on cellphone video.

"Babe record this," he says. "Look, they're punching me."

After his arraignment in Euclid Municipal Court in August, Hubbard told reporters repeatedly, "I did not resist arrest."

"When the officer told me to get out of the car, I got out of the car, stepping toward me he said face away, I did not know what that meant at the time but I turned around immediately. When I turned around, I was attacked. I did not resist arrest," Hubbard told reporters.

"It all happened so fast, it was a blur, but I know I did not touch the officer," Hubbard said.

Tirado Caraballo, who faces disorderly conduct and obstruction of official business charges, said, "Richard did not do anything to deserve this, he did not resist arrest."

"In all honesty I was afraid, I was scared, I was confused," Tirado Caraballo said at the news conference.

Here's what we know about a routine traffic stop that quickly descended into violence.

What happened?

Hubbard, 25, was pulled over for driving with a suspended license and driving without using signals, according to a police report.

When Amiott opened the car door and ordered the driver to step out, Hubbard got out of the car and attempted to walk away. A struggle ensued between the two men, police said. A second officer also attempted to subdue Hubbard.

The second officer used a stun gun on Hubbard -- but also accidentally hit his partner with the stun gun, according to the report. Hubbard yelled several racial slurs at the officers, the report said.

Euclid police officials would not say whether Hubbard was armed.

In the video, Hubbard and his passenger are heard telling the officers that he does not have a gun.

Hubbard was arrested the day of the traffic stop and evaluated for his injuries at the Cuyahoga Jail. He was released on bond later that day, according to the Cuyahoga Public Defender's Office.

Amiott was treated for injuries at a hospital, according to the police report. The second officer, who filed the police report, did not say he had any injuries or that he was taken to the hospital.

Hubbard is charged with misdemeanors including resisting officers, driving on a suspended license and a traffic infraction. His girlfriend was also arrested, according to the police report.

The couple is still challenging these charges in court. Their lawyer, Chris McNeal, is waiting for a city judge's ruling on a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds of "outrageous police misconduct."

"Honestly I was glad the officer got fired so he won't be able to do this to anyone else. I'm just happy to get him off the streets," Hubbard told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday.

McNeal told CNN that Amiott's termination is a victory for his clients, the citizens of Euclid, and law enforcement officers alike.

"Bad cops impugn the integrity of the badge. The transgressions of the few bad actors taints the reputation, corrodes the public trust, and fosters resentment against the majority of police officers who discharge their duties professionally, honorably, and within the confines of the Constitution," McNeal said.

McNeal said Hubbard is considering a civil lawsuit against Amiott based on excessive use of force, but the dismissal of the charges against Hubbard remains their current priority.

What is the officer's track record?

This wasn't the first disciplinary action in Amiott's police career.

In August 2016, Amiott "lost his temper" at the scene of an arrest and used his gun as an "impact weapon" to subdue a suspect, according to his Euclid police personnel file.

Before joining the Euclid Police Department, Amiott was forced to resign from a neighboring police department after making a false statement in a police report, according to a Mentor Police Department internal investigation report.

Amiott was still within a preliminary probationary period with Mentor Police as a new officer when he resigned in April 2014. He joined Euclid later that year.

What happens next?

The Euclid Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #18, which provided Amiott with legal counsel during both the police department internal review and the mayor's review, has the option to appeal the termination, which could result in an arbitrator overturning the mayor's decision. Should the union choose to appeal on Amiott's behalf, the case would be reviewed by an independent arbitrator who would make the final decision whether to uphold or overturn the mayor's decision to terminate his employment.

Appeal paperwork had not been filed with the city as of Wednesday, according to City of Euclid Law Director Kelley Sweeney. The Fraternal Order of Police did not respond to CNN's request for comment. CNN reached out to Amiott and his family, but did not hear back.

"During these polarizing times, raw video of police officers using force to subdue those who resist arrest can be difficult to watch," Euclid Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #18 President Dave Trend said in a statement when the video first surfaced.

"Everyone has an opinion about how much force is necessary and how much is too much. It's easy to provide commentary after the fact. It's not easy being in the moment, on the street, trying to keep our community safe," Trend said.

The Euclid Prosecutor's Office will not file criminal charges against Amiott, according to Prosecutor Mary Riley Casa.

Criminal charges also have not been filed against Amiott at the county level at this time. The county prosecutor's office is still investigating the altercation between Amiott and Hubbard, said Ryan Miday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office director of communications and public policy.

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