A Cleveland man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a police officer who shot him during a routine traffic stop, despite the fact that he was unarmed and had his hands up.
Gregory Love, 29, described the night that would put him in the hospital with a bullet in his arm.
"It was wonderful, beautiful outside," Love told the Cleveland Scene. "There was a concert that night -- Mary J. Blige and Anthony Hamilton -- so I knew it was going to be a beautiful summer night down there."
Love was driving in Cleveland’s warehouse district with two passengers, Dunja Biggins and Brandon Vason, at around 2:30 in the morning on June 23, 2013, according to the lawsuit. He tried to make a left turn when a Cleveland police officer, Vincent Montague Jr., two years older than Love and a five-year veteran of the CPD, ordered him to stop.
Love tried to turn around, but could not make it past all the pedestrians. Montague then reportedly pointed his service weapon at Love and Biggins. Montague tried to turn off Love’s engine, reaching into the car, but could not. He then stepped back and fired a round. The bullet hit Love in the chest and lodged in his right arm.
At that point, Love’s chief emotion was shock. He described his reaction: "I had my hands up, and I'm like, 'Do you know you just shot me? You see my hands up.’”
The scene attracted a crowd of bystanders, some of whom began filming on their phones.
"At this time, it's a melee," Love recalled. "It's just cops and lights and cameras. I'm shot, it was just crazy."
Adding insult to injury, Love was charged with traffic violations and eluding police. The latter charge was dropped.
The police department has made no comment on the litigation, and it’s still unclear whether Montague meant to shoot or if the gun discharged accidentally.
Love is seeking over $75,000 in damages for Montague’s use of excessive force and “unjustifiable and malicious conduct,” which he says violated the protection against unlawful arrest guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.
According to the Cleveland Scene, the CBD is already under investigation by the Department of Justice for repeated complaints of officers using excessive force.