Man arrested for laughing at police officers settles case for $80,000
A man who was arrested for laughing at police has been awarded a settlement case for $80000 via a federal lawsuit.
The city of Garfield Heights agreed to pay $80,000 in a settlement deal. A resident filed a federal lawsuit against the police.
The resident claimed that the police fabricated a story that he threatened officers. However, he says he only laughed and insulted them.
Robert Spencer, the resident, was awarded the settlement. The settlement also requires the city to train its officers on the First Amendment and how it applies to their job.
It also requires lessons on the limitations on forced labor by inmates. The settlement requirements were released to the news by Spencer’s lawyers at The Chandra Law Firm in Cleveland.
The settlement agreement requires the training must take place within six months.
According to the information in the news release, the city also agreed to provide training materials and attendance records to the law firm for advance approval.
Spencer, 30, was arrested by officers Kenneth Falzini and David Simia back in July 2017. The officers said he threatened and shoved one of them before proceeding to resist arrest.
A jury later acquitted him of the charges, including assault and aggravated menacing. He claimed in a lawsuit filed in July that he was never aggressive with the officers.
During the incident, his girlfriend captured the exchange on video. In the video, some of the officers claimed were contradicted.
It showed Spencer insulting the officers. He referred to them as “Beavis & Butthead” and “Elvis," as well as telling them at one point “and y’all got the [expletive] right to remain rank.”
His lawyers later explained that the word “rank” means to make fun of someone.
The video, in which children can be seen and heard in the background showed Spencer’s girlfriend told officers that Spencer never threatened to harm them.
She also says that he was just “out here talking [expletive] with the kids.” Spencer has prior felony convictions on weapons charges.
He said in his lawsuit that the case against him was fabricated. He explained it was because he dared to laugh and make fun of police officers.
" I was arrested and prosecuted for laughing while black." said Spencer
His lawyer, Patrick Kabat, said in the news release that “we commend Garfield Heights for promptly committing to addressing the issues Mr. Spencer’s ordeal exposed.”