Cleveland Police Officers Still On The Force After Attacking Disabled Teen And Shouting Racial Slurs at Family

CLEVELAND, OHIO―Today, Ramón Ortiz filed a lawsuit to enforce a public-records request to the City of Cleveland for records that would reveal whether the police chief or safety director have taken any disciplinary action against officers for the August 16, 2010 attack on Mr. Ortiz’s son Juan, and for shouting racial slurs at the Ortiz family.

Juan Ortiz suffers from severe Down syndrome, which is visibly evident in his facial features. At the time of the attack, he was under 4’11” tall, weighed approximately 118 pounds, and was 16-years old. His ancestry is Puerto Rican and his complexion is dark.

One year ago today, the City agreed to pay a $250,000 settlement stemming from the 2010 incident, but no indication exists that Cleveland has held the officers to account for their actions.

According to the 2011 federal civil-rights complaint the Ortiz family filed, on August 16, 2010, Juan was playing in the yard at his west-side apartment complex listening to his Walkman. There was a robbery reported near the complex, and police were looking for a good-Samaritan white male in his fifties, possibly wearing a red shirt, who had turned in a wallet to the apartment manager. Patrol officer Brian Kazimer shouted at and began chasing Juan.

Startled, Juan ran to his parents on the other side of the parking lot. According to eyewitness testimony, Kazimer wrenched Juan from his mother’s arms and slammed him against a parked SUV. Kazimer pinned Juan to the hot car―causing him to sustain burns to his lower abdomen requiring surgery. Kazimer yanked Juan’s arms over his head, employing grossly excessive force to restrain a non-resisting suspect who Kazimer admitted had “surrendered” before Kazimer laid a hand on Juan. Kazimer told Juan’s parents they were “lucky” he “didn’t shoot” Juan.

The attack left Juan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Ortiz family had to relocate out of state due to Juan’s visceral and panicked reaction to subsequent sightings of Cleveland police officers and vehicles.

Numerous witnesses testified under penalty of perjury to the bigotry that permeated the violent detention of Juan including vulgar, obscene, and racist language toward Juan and his parents, who originate from the United States territory of Puerto Rico:

Jean Posey, who was babysitting her grandchildren in the complex, testified that one of the officers called Juan’s mother a “Mexican wetback” and told her to “get the hell back to where she belongs.”

Apartment manager Nina Kennedy testified that one of the officers told Juan’s parents to “go back to their own country” and to “shut the fuck up.”

Family members likewise testified that the officers said Juan should “go back to where he came from” if he doesn’t speak English and that Crisan said “you shouldn’t live in the United States if you don’t know English.”
These white-supremacist views have no place in Cleveland’s police force. Yet Kazimer and Crisan remain on the force today.

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