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Euclid officer Michael Amiott found guilty of assault and interfering with civil rights in excessive force case

Amiott, who was found not guilty on a second assault count, was charged in connection with a violent traffic stop in August of 2017.

EUCLID, Ohio — A jury found Euclid Police Officer Michael Amiott guilty on one count of assault and one count of interfering with civil rights in his excessive force trial on Friday. Amiott was found not guilty on a second assault count. 

"You've done your job," the judge told the jury after the verdicts were read.

Sentencing will take place at a later date. Under Ohio law, Amiott faces up to 360 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. All of the charges against him were first-degree misdemeanors.

Euclid Police Chief Scott Meyer issued the following statement:

"With regard to the recent court ruling in the Officer Michael Amiott trial, I believe it is important that the process was allowed to reach its ultimate conclusion in the court of law and not the court of public opinion. It is my hope that this decision can start to bring closure to all of the parties affected by this five-year long process. The dedicated and hard-working men and women of the Euclid Police Department continue to serve honorably and selflessly during an extremely challenging time for our society and our profession. The Euclid Police Department will move forward and continue to serve our community with impartiality and transparency."

You can watch the verdict being read in the below video:

Amiott was charged in connection with a violent traffic stop in August of 2017. Cell phone video showed the officer repeatedly punching Richard Hubbard after the latter was pulled over for an unspecified moving violation.

Hubbard was accused of resisting arrest after allegedly refusing Amiott's orders, and the ensuing struggle resulted in Hubbard being hit multiple times while on the ground. The criminal charges against Hubbard were later dropped, and while he suffered no permanent injuries, the city later agreed to a $450,000 settlement with both him and the owner of the car he was driving.

Following a 45-day suspension, Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail fired Amiott from the police force, but an independent arbitrator reinstated him a year later. Nevertheless, Amiott was arrested and charged in Euclid Municipal Court in August of 2019 following further investigation, and his trial was subsequently delayed two years by COVID-19.

As of Friday, Amiott was still employed as a member of the Euclid Police Department.

Dave Trend, President of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Euclid Lodge #18 and FOP/Ohio Labor Council Board, added the following statement:

"We are disappointed in the jury's guilty verdict," Dave Trend, president of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Euclid Lodge #18 and FOP/Ohio Labor Council Board, wrote. "We remain confident that Officer Amiott's actions were reasonable given the circumstances and we continue to stand by him."

The trial of Amiott continued on Friday for its fifth day. After closing arguments took place, the judge gave instructions to the jury prior to them beginning deliberations.

In the closing arguments, special prosecutor Dominic Vitantonio spoke first.

"The bottom line is he complied with everything...," said Vitantonio. "He had no opportunity to say he was going to the bank... Seriously folks, what did they find? money from his job."

Toward the end of his arguments, Vitantonio spoke directly to the eight-person jury, asking for them to look solely at the evidence that was presented in the trial.

"I hate to say it, but it stinks," said Vitantonio. "It is a violation of his civil rights, and it is assault. You should find him guilty as charged based on nothing but the evidence, the evidence is there."

Amiott's defense attorney, Kim Corral gave her closing arguments next.

"One thing that I think is important to address is that officer Amiott is not the only officer that believed force was appropriate," Corral said. "In fact, every single officer on the scene required force to effectuate this arrest."

“The state wants to reframe this as a man getting beat in the street for driving without a license, but that’s not what happened here," said Corral. "That’s not a fair assessment.”

Corral also emphasized for the jury to look at what caused the use-of-force incident.

“It was the resistance. When he shouldered the officer. When he pulled his arm out and grabbed the bar of the car. And then, it escalates from there. At each point, as is part of the training, the officer’s use of force raises to match the resistance in control of the situation. Officer Amiott has waited a long time to have the opportunity to share his side of the story – and it was important to him to take the stand. I am confident that we chose a qualified and conscientious jury that can do this important and nuanced assessment of what’s happening here, and can do that – not from your perspective as a private citizen – but from the perspective of an officer who’s gone through years of this training, years of these drills, years of this policy on how to deal with an exact situation and then handles the situation exactly as he was trained.”

Finally, Corral ended her closing statements by pleading for the jury to find Amiott innocent. 

“The state did not offer any evidence supporting any conclusion that officer Amiott’s conduct, that his use of force, was unreasonable from the perspective of an officer with this precise training and experience – because it’s not. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, once you deliberate you’ll have no choice but to acquit. At all times, officer Amiott was acting as a reasonable officer would with the then-known circumstances from the view of an officer on scene.”

On Thursday, the defense in the trial of Euclid Police Officer Michael Amiott rested following the fourth day of testimony without a rebuttal from the prosecution on Thursday.

RELATED: Euclid police officer Michael Amiott testifies in excessive force case

During the fourth day of the trial, the judge stated he hoped to have the jury instructions at the close of today, otherwise, the trial will continue into Saturday. 

On Thursday, the first testimony was given by Euclid Police Department Captain Jeff Cutwright, who has been with the department for nearly 26 years. 

Cutwright, stated that he believes Amiott's conduct was within the policy of the Euclid Police Department. Amiott's conduct was approved by Cutwright when he signed off on Amiott’s response to the resistance form.

“Our policies are reviewed by our law director. I am not an expert in the law, but a use of force policy that is illegal is no use to me. I have to base it on the law, not what I believe in an incident that this person is right and this person is right,” said Cutwright. “The law doesn't look at that, the law looks at what is right and what is wrong.” 

Euclid Patrolman Dan Ferritto was the second to testify on Thursday. 

Ferritto was not on the scene of the incident, but he made a call on the radio earlier that day stating the vehicle “looks fun” when he saw the silver Hyundai and locked eyes with him. 

From Ferritto’s perspective, he displayed unusual behavior from Hubbard when he passed him on the road. 

“We locked eyes with each other, he sat up in his car, and he regripped the wheel, he's turning his head following me as we pass each other until the back pillar separated our eye contact," said Ferritto. "It isn't normal behavior when I am driving a car. Citizens don’t react that way when they see a police officer.”

Others to testify on Thursday included law enforcement specialist James Romph, Euclid Sergeant Kirk Pavkov and retired law enforcement officer and police trainer Kevin Davis. 

On Wednesday, the third day of testimony happened. Officer Amiott testified on the stand. 

“If his hand is flailing around, whether he’s intending to or not, and he grabs a hold of my gun, for example, then me and my partner are going to have to make a decision,” Amiott said. “It’s concerning when his hands are on my belt. It’s concerning to me. So that’s why the strikes are thrown. Eventually, I’m able to get his arm up, and we go into what is called a resting mount, which is another training position.”

During the second day of testimony, fellow Officer Matthew Gilmer — who was alongside Amiott that afternoon — described the reasons he assisted Amiott during the stop.

"Whenever an officer calls out a vehicle, we don't let them go alone," Gilmer told the court. "So, if Officer Amiott says he has eyes on a vehicle that is possibly going to be stopped, I'm going to turn around and start heading in that direction."

Former Euclid Assistant Chief Kevin Kelly was also called to the stand, with the defense questioning a training session just months before the altercation. Kelly admitted the first bullet point in the training says officers have "reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle after he ran a license plate and discovered the car was registered to a person with a suspended license." In this case, the car Hubbard was operating was indeed connected to a suspended license, and Gilmer further claimed Hubbard's actions during the encounter led him to believe things would escalate.

"At the time, I was fully convinced there was illegal activity going on besides just driving under suspension when Mr. Hubbard started using, again, racial slurs, not being polite, and things like that," Gilmer said. "That's an indicator to me that he's agitated."

Prosecutors rested their case following Gilmer's testimony. Meanwhile, the defense called its first person to the stand: an instructor at the Cleveland Heights police academy who trained Amiott.

Video of the incident was played in the courtroom Monday as Hubbard was questioned on the witness stand. We streamed Monday's opening statements live, which you can watch in the player below: 

“I’m on the ground, he hops right up and starts slamming my head on the ground, which I don’t even know why he did that," when asked to explain what was happening at specific moments from the incident. "But then my girlfriend gets out of the car and starts screaming.”

Hubbard said he wasn't fighting back.

“I never touched the officer," he said. "I never even brought up my fists at the officer. I protected my face from the punches, but you can’t see it from this video.”

When it was over, Hubbard said he sat in the squad car disappointed at what happened.

“A traffic stop just turned into me just getting beat up for no reason.”

You can watch Hubbard's comments in the player below.

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