Cleveland mayoral candidate Eric Brewer, dressed as a woman and claiming his name was “Erica,” was arrested a year ago for drug possession and driving with a suspended license, according to court records and police video.
Just this week, the charges came to light when his misdemeanor convictions were upheld by a unanimous 9th District Court of Appeals.
Brewer was found guilty of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license.
He is one of nine candidates challenging Mayor Frank Jackson in this fall’s election. Brewer would not comment on the charges Wednesday. He hung up the phone when contacted by Channel 3 News.
Acting as his own lawyer, Brewer, 63, has spent the past 18 months fighting the criminal charges, filing a flurry of court motions since the original traffic stop in October 2015 by Boston Heights police, court records show.
Police video shows the officer stopped Brewer’s black Mercedes on state Route 8 at about 1 a.m. after checking a law enforcement data base. The car’s owner – Brewer – was shown to have a suspended license, police said.
But Brewer did not immediately identify himself, a police body camera shows. Instead, he told police the car was owned by his brother.
“I go by the name Erica,” Brewer told the officer.
The political hopeful is seen wearing a black and white dress, a wig, high heels and makeup. His fingernails and toenails were painted red.
Apparently confused, the young officer spoke at the scene to a supervisor.
“OK, he’s lying. He’s telling you he’s not the owner. OK. No proper name is bull (expletive),” the supervisor said.
“Don’t put up with any of his crap. You know he’s lying to you already. If you think it’s a crossdresser, then don’t be afraid to ask him.”
“How do I go about that?” the patrolman asked.
“Just ask him, ‘Are you a male’,” the supervisor said.
The patrolman returned to Brewer and asked for his Social Security number.
“I’m not quite sure at the moment… What’s going on? What have I done wrong?” Brewer said.
The officer replied, “I’m just trying to figure out who you are….Ma’am, do you know your Social?”
Brewer said: “Not off hand. I’m a little confused.”
A moment later, Brewer relented and gave his true name.
“Eric Jonathan Brewer,” he told the officer.
Brewer then went on to say he’s contesting another suspended license charge in Akron, where he was cited in September 2013.
“I was dressed just like this,” Brewer said.
As the two spoke, it became clear that the officer was going to have Brewer’s car towed.
“I’m just trying to get home…Can you cut me some slack?” Brewer implored. “I’m just asking you.”
The officer again talked to his supervisor, who said they would not give Brewer any consideration.
“Basically, she, he, is saying I don’t have probable cause to stop this vehicle,” he said.
The supervisor spoke privately with the officer and said the car would be towed because of Brewer’s attempt to conceal his identity. He appears to be training the younger officer on protocol.
“First of all, when somebody lies to you, you’re not going to give them a break. You’re going to tow the (expletive) car,” the supervisor said.
As the car was being inventoried before the tow, the marijuana pipe was found under the driver’s seat. The marijuana was contained in an orange prescription drug bottle located in a pouch behind the front passenger seat.
“I need my purse,” Brewer told the officer as he was being escorted to the police cruiser.
A letter written by Brewer and filed in Stow Municipal Court described the amount of marijuana as “tiny” and the paraphernalia as simply a “pipe.”
Photos of Brewer dressed as a woman made national headlines in 2009. At the time, he was mayor of East Cleveland. He lost his re-election bid.
Brewer sought to have the case dismissed, contending in court motions that police improperly used two law enforcement data bases without probable cause and only stopped his car after learning of his license suspension.
The judge denied his motions and the appellate court agreed with the ruling.
Brewer, who is not an attorney, had his case heard by Judge Lisa Coates. Court records show the judge found him guilty on each charge in March 2016 and Brewer was fined $1,526. He then filed his appeal.
The fines have yet to be paid, court records show.
Brewer also was cited for driving with a suspended license after being stopped by Akron police in September 2013. He paid a $657 fine in Akron Municipal Court. He also received 100 hours of community service.