Ohio cops mock, beat, and tase mentally-ill black man without provocation in disturbing bodycam footage
Kenta Settles spent five months behind bars before bodycam footage proved that he was the victim, not the perpetrator
CLEVELAND, OHIO: With police conduct around the country under a scanner following national and international protests over the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, several past incidents of unnecessary use of force and brutality are now coming to the fore. One such case is that of 28-year-old Kenta Settles, an African-American man who was jailed for five months for "assaulting" police officers before bodycam footage revealed he was the one who had been beaten, tased, and taunted during a January arrest.
Settles, who suffers from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD, had been stopped by Garfield Heights police officers Michael Malak and Robert Pitts as he walked down an icy sidewalk along Turney Road on January 23. In a newly-released bodycam video, the officers can be seen telling a confused Settles that he was being detained without telling him why. When the 28-year-old asks, "What's going on?" he is hurled to the ground, where he curls up into a fetal position while being punched and tased.
Settles cries out in pain after he's tased, with the unrelenting officers screaming at him to "roll on your stomach." They can be heard telling him to "stop resisting" even as he protested, "I'm not!" In another clip, the officers mocked Settles as he cried while lying down on the sidewalk. "Are you crying? All poor baby you shouldn't f**king hit cops you a**hole," Malak tells him.
After he's handcuffed and picked off the ground, Settles quipped, "I hope y'all had fun tonight." In response, an officer said, "This isn't our idea of fun."
"Confused the f*** out me," Settles continues. "I was like, 'What the f***?' Do me like that out of nowhere. Was that fair?" The same officer hits back, "All you had to do was stop and talk to us and none of this would've ever happened."
"You didn't ask me to talk!" Settles protested.
The altercation left Malak with a broken nose and Settles with a chipped tooth, a rotator cuff injury, and a slice near his eye, according to police and court records; Settles was subsequently charged with assaulting a peace officer and obstructing official business. He was indicted by a judge a week later and ordered held on a $250,000 bond. He remained in jail for five months, facing a further two decades behind bars, before videos of the incident were released and reviewed by a judge, who then granted him a personal bond.
Cleveland. com reported that the officers involved in the arrest were cleared two weeks after Settles was indicted following an internal investigation that blamed the 28-year-old for the incident. While the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor has dismissed the criminal charges against Settles following the release of the bodycam video, they will still be going back to a grand jury to re-present the "entire case" for additional charges.
Settles has since filed a lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland accusing Malak, Pitts, and three other Garfield Heights officers who aided his arrest of using excessive force against him and violating his constitutional rights. His lawyer Jeremy Tor said Settles had taken a bus to Garfield Heights from Cleveland to visit his brother so he could borrow a pair of hair clippers which he would use to give his young son a haircut for his birthday the next day.