AFRICANGLOBE – An Ohio officer slammed a handcuffed Black man’s face into the windshield of a police cruiser so hard that the impact cracked the glass, according to newly released footage obtained by NBC affiliate WKYC.
The video shows Pele Smith of Lorain, OH being escorted by multiple officers. Rather than putting Smith in the backseat, one of the officers shoves his face into the glass.
Police were in Smith’s neighborhood allegedly investigate drug complaints, and said Smith attempted to destroy evidence by eating his drugs. Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera said in a statement that he “physically resisted officers” when they tried to take the evidence.
It’s difficult to tell on the video whether Smith is resisting or simply writhing in pain from having his handcuffed arms twisted behind his back. He can be heard telling his Mother to take care of his son.
Smith had to be treated for facial injuries at Mercy Regional Medical Center after the incident. He was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing official business, and tampering with evidence. He pleaded guilty in exchange for probation.
“I would caution observers to not rush to judgment relative to the actions of the police officers on scene. Although it is not easy to watch, police officers explain all of their actions in their police reports,” Rivera wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
Rivera also referred to Smith as a “violent drug trafficker.” While he does have prior convictions for drug offenses as well as possessing a firearm, Smith has no violent criminal history.
Smith has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and the four officers involved in his arrest. The suit mentions Officer Zachary Ferenec, the officer who slammed him into the windshield, as well as the three officers who were present and did not intervene.
Smith also alleges that Officer Michael Gidich got into the back of the cruiser to “taunt and insult the bleeding (Smith)” on the way to the hospital. He is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from the city.
Footage of Smith being slammed into the windshield can be found below.
By: Nathan Wellman
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