Dashcam video shows officers crack windshield with suspect's face
Newly released dashcam footage from a 2014 arrest raises questions about use of force at one Ohio police department. (KTRK)
Monday, October 03, 2016 09:16AM
LORAIN, Ohio -- During a 2014 arrest, a man was slammed against a police cruiser so hard his face cracks the windshield, according to newly released video that is part of a federal lawsuit against an Ohio police department.
Officers, however, say the video only tells part of the story.
"Disturbing. Shocking. I think it's kind of difficult to watch," remarked defense attorney Mark Petroff, who represents 30-year-old Pele Smith, the man whose face was slammed against the windshield by officer Zachary Ferenec so forcefully that the glass shattered.
"I don't know what type of force it takes to break a windshield, but i would imagine it's pretty substantial," Petroff told WEWS-TV.
During the altercation, Smith's chin made impact with the vehicle. He went to the hospital, but did not need stitches.
Smith was being arrested over suspicions of drug trafficking, for which he has been convicted before.
A police spokesman was advised by city lawyers not to speak on-camera, but said off-camera that officers had to use greater force because Smith was resisting arrest. They said the slam was not intentional.
"It's not an accident. You watch the video and you certainly will form the same opinion. In fact, it looks like he was lifted up and slammed into the windshield," adds Petroff.
Smith is suing the department for monetary damages.
LORAIN, Ohio - Newly released dashcam video shows an officer in Ohio slamming a handcuffed suspect onto a police cruiser with such force that the man's face shattered the windshield.
32-year-old Pele Smith has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Lorain, accusing several officers of excessive force.
"It’s unbelievable, it’s sad, it’s frightening that an individual, while in handcuffs, has something like that happen to them,” said Mark Petroff, Smith's attorney.
Though the dashcam video was just released, the incident happened back in September of 2014.
Officers were investigating a neighborhood for drug offenses when they stopped Smith for jaywalking.
According to WKYC, Smith had previously been convicted on drug charges and for possessing a firearm.
An officer at the scene believed Smith swallowed some drugs, and then say he became uncooperative.
Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera released a statement to WKYC, stating that the video could be misunderstood and does not tell the whole story, asking people to not rush to judgement. "Although it is not easy to watch, police officers explain all of their actions in their police reports," the statement reads.
As part of a plea deal, Smith received probation after pleading guilty to charges of tampering with evidence, obstructing official business, and resisting arrest.