FAMILY ACCUSES POLICE OF BRUTALITY OFFICERS SAY ARRESTED MEN THREATENED THEM

The Plain Dealer
Cleveland, OH
Jan 17, 1998

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Authors: KARIN SCHOLZ PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
Pagination: 1B

Abstract:

A family on Cleveland's West Side has accused several police officers of being needlessly violent this week when they rushed into their house to arrest a man accused of a traffic violation.

Family members and the officers give different stories. The officers, at least seven of whom were involved, said in their incident reports that the arrested men were threatening them and disobeying their orders. The family's lawyer, Richard T. Herman, said yesterday that the officers had no legal reason to go inside the house, and that they were overly aggressive.

According to the police reports, the incident began at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday when a man they later identified as Raymond Ortiz, 20, was spotted speeding to his house in the 2000 block of W. 105th St. Ortiz lives at the house with his extended family.

(Copyright (c) The Plain Dealer 1998)

Full Text:

Plain Dealer reporter Jesse Tinsley contributed to this article.

A family on Cleveland's West Side has accused several police officers of being needlessly violent this week when they rushed into their house to arrest a man accused of a traffic violation.

A lawyer for the family said police injured a 53-year-old man, knocking him out and breaking one of his ribs. Two people were arrested, police said.

Cleveland Police Chief Rocco Pollutro ordered an investigation yesterday into the allegations of brutality. A report on what happened is expected to be finished in a week.

Six children under age 15 were home at the time, and one of them videotaped part of the melee from a hiding spot in the kitchen.

Family members and the officers give different stories. The officers, at least seven of whom were involved, said in their incident reports that the arrested men were threatening them and disobeying their orders. The family's lawyer, Richard T. Herman, said yesterday that the officers had no legal reason to go inside the house, and that they were overly aggressive.

According to the police reports, the incident began at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday when a man they later identified as Raymond Ortiz, 20, was spotted speeding to his house in the 2000 block of W. 105th St. Ortiz lives at the house with his extended family.

An officer pulled up to the house in a cruiser and ordered him on a megaphone to come to the cruiser and talk with him, the reports said. But Ortiz had already gone inside.

A relative came out of the house and turned over Ortiz's driver's license, police said. When Ortiz refused to go to the cruiser and get his citation, officers - several of whom had arrived - ran through an open door into the house.

Police say a fight broke out in the living room before Ortiz was tackled.

The family, which is from Puerto Rico, said part of the initial confusion over the traffic citation may have occurred because they speak only Spanish.

The police report said a Spanish-speaking officer did not arrive at the house until the incident was well under way.

After the melee began, police said Ramon Ortiz, 53, suddenly stood up in the living room, collapsed and fell unconscious. The family said police rushed into the house, knocked Ortiz out of a chair and into the television, leaving him unconscious.

Ramon Ortiz spent a night in MetroHealth Medical Center being treated for abdominal pain, a hospital spokeswoman said. Herman said he suffered a broken rib and an injured wrist.

Ramon Ortiz's wife, Angela, said a police officer pushed her daughter Caterina Ortiz, 25, against a wall. The woman, who is pregnant, was taken to MetroHealth for treatment, the police report said.

Police say Caterina Ortiz was disorderly, although she was not arrested.

The videotape, shot without the officers' knowledge by a 14-year-old boy, shows several officers trying to get Raymond Ortiz to the ground - but does not show what happened to Ramon Ortiz or Caterina Ortiz.

Raymond Ortiz was charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, and traffic offenses, according to City Jail records. Jose Rivera Ramos, 34, was charged with assault on a police officer, a felony, and resisting arrest. An officer said Rivera punched him in the back.

Both men were released from jail on bond last night. Neither has a criminal record.

Nancy Lesic, the mayor's press secretary, said two Spanish-speaking officers, a commander and a captain, are involved in the investigation. Lesic and police declined to elaborate about the investigation.

Angela Ortiz wondered yesterday how things got so confused so quickly. "I kept asking, `But why? But why?'

PHOTO BY MIKE LEVY / PLAIN DEALER PHOTOGRAPHER Angela Ortiz weeps while discussing a Wednesday confrontation with police that her family says resulted in her husband, Ramon, 53, being knocked unconscious. Sitting beside Ortiz is her granddaughter, Gloria Rivera, 5.

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