East Cleveland Police Officer Nicholas Foti was fired for stomping the head of a motorist during a traffic stop nearly a year ago. City officials did not become aware of the incident until they responded to a public records request earlier this month. After the footage was released, Foti was on paid leave pending the outcome of the ECPD’s internal investigation. We have embedded the footage taken from the body camera of another officer below. At 1:20 you can see an officer stomp on the suspect’s head after he was dragged out of the car and placed on the ground face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. Foti’s use of force was unnecessary and excessive.
The video below is a trigger for this author because I recently settled a lawsuit against the federal government for excessive force used on me by correctional officers employed by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). In that case I was punched in the head repeatedly while lying face down on the floor with my hands cuffed behind my back. Unlike Foti’s victim, I didn’t have the benefit of video footage showing the strikes, but I was able present a case based on other things. That case was strong enough to survive the government’s summary judgment motion that would have dismissed the case, so they settled with me to avoid the expense of a trial. That experience re-affirmed what I already knew, that just because officers are justified using force at one point does not justify using unnecessary or excessive force later. Kicking this man in the head served no legitimate purpose whatsoever. The force used by the officers to extract a non-compliant motorist appears to have been legitimate, but the need for force ended when the suspect was handcuffed on the ground. Had the victim still been resisting, Foti could have mad an argument that “focused blows” were needed to compel compliance, but even that argument would not justify kicking a man in the head. Foti appears to have simply lost his temper and taken out his frustrations on a helpless detainee. His actions were clearly malicious and he was rightfully fired. Hopefully he will be charged with battery.
Other officers used excessive force in this case, but appear to have gone unpunished. At 1:30 an officer can be seen punching the victim while he is on the ground in handcuffs and being tased at the same time. Punching a helpless man in handcuffs is not justified and neither is tasing a handcuffed person. Unfortunately, police departments often sanction the unnecessary use of “focused blows” and tasers on those suspected of being non-compliant. In this case it seems all the victim had to do to earn a tasing was move when told to remain still.
According to public records, Nicholas A. Foti is a 36 year old resident of Painesville, Ohio. In 2008 he pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge listed as “falsification” in violation of Ohio statue number 606.10 (https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/reading/latest/reading_oh/0-0-0-54475) and fined $343 (case number 08CRB03380FOTNIC). A civil judgment of $496 was entered against him in Lake County Municipal Court in 2007 (case number CVF0701278). He filed for bankruptcy in 2017. He registered to vote as a Republican in 2004 and his drivers license is suppressed.
According to Foti’s LinkedIn profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-foti-0b586162/), he graduated from Willoughby South High School in 2003, attended Cleveland Heights Police Academy in 2012, worked as a Timberlake Police Officer from 2012-2014, worked as a training enforcement officer for the Newburgh Heights Police Department in 2015, and worked for the Geneva on the Lake Police Department. He does not list his employment with the East Cleveland Police Department on his profile, presumably because he has not kept it up to date.
Published at Mon, 29 Mar 2021 18:02:53 +0000