$22M For Man Police Locked In Closet For Four Days

An Ohio man was awarded $22 million in reparations for a 2012 incident in which he was allegedly punched in the face by an officer and then locked in a storage closet for four days without access to food, water or a bathroom.

Arnold Black sued the East Cleveland Police Department over his wrongful and inhumane imprisonment. Black claims the officers mistook his green pickup truck for one that belonged to a suspected drug dealer, according to the New York Daily News. One of the officers, Detective Randy Hicks, allegedly smelled of alcohol and was slurring his speech.

Once he realized that Black wasn't his suspect, Hicks punched him in the face, exclaiming, "I was at a bar with friends. You messed up my night." The other officer, Jonathon O'Leary simply stood by and watched as Hicks continued to deliver blows to the man's face, reports Cleveland.com.

Black was then handcuffed and brought back to the East Cleveland Police Headquarters, according to court testimony. But instead of being placed in a cell, Black was locked in a storage closet with no food or water.

“I knocked on the door and was like, ‘Can anybody hear me? Can anybody? I’ve got to use the bathroom,’” Black said, according to the New York Daily News. “Nobody ever answered.” Cleveland.com reports that Black had to urinate and defecate inside one of the closet's storage lockers.

The following week, Black was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail. But instead of a mugshot that would have shown Black's beaten and bloody face, officers fabricated an arrest report that used Black's driver's license photo. A month later, all charges were dismissed.

Throughout the lawsuit, Hicks corroborated Black's allegations against him. Although the city of East Cleveland has already filed an appeal of the $22 million verdict, Attorney Rob DiCello remains confident Black will be able to receive at least part of the $22 million awarded to him, according Cleveland.com.

"The importance of this verdict is not in the money we collect, it's in the message, the powerful message that the jury sent, that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated in Cuyahoga County," DiCello said.

Sources: Cleveland.com, New York Daily News / Photo credit: Joe Gratz/Flickr

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