EUCLID, Ohio – A black man seen in a cellphone video being punched more than a dozen times by a white police officer after a traffic stop outside Cleveland pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest Thursday.
Richard Hubbard III, 25, entered the plea in Euclid, where he was stopped Aug. 12 by Officer Michael Amiott for a suspended license. He was wearing a gray suit and blue-and-white neck brace when he appeared in court with friends and family.
Hubbard's attorney asked a Municipal Court judge to dismiss the charges during the hearing. The judge did not immediately rule so prosecutors could have a chance to reply.
In his first public comments made after his arrest, Hubbard said he did not resist when Amiott ordered him to "face away," which a police dashcam video appears to confirm. The video shows Amiott wrestling Hubbard to the ground within seconds of ordering him to "face away" after Hubbard steps out of the car.
"It all happened so fast, it was a blur, but I know I did not touch the officer," Hubbard said. "He had me pinned, I couldn't move. The only thing I did was hold my hands up to deflect the punches."
The cellphone video viewed more than 7 million times on Facebook has sparked outrage across the country. It shows Amiott punching Hubbard more than a dozen times and hitting his head on pavement several times.
Some of the punches came after it appeared that Hubbard had spread his arms out while lying on his stomach. Euclid police initially said Hubbard refused to follow orders and resisted.
Hubbard's girlfriend, Yolimar Tirado, was arrested with Hubbard and pled not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She is seen in the video kneeling on the road and screaming "babe, stop," as Amiott punches him repeatedly.
"I thought that they were going to kill him in front of me," Tirado said. "I wasn't sure what was coming out of my mouth, all I knew was that I was begging them to stop."
Officers began laughing and bumping fists after officers put Hubbard in a police cruiser, said Lashaunda Malone, a witness who took the widely viewed cellphone video.
Four days after the arrest, Euclid Mayor Kirsten Gail and Police Chief Scott Meyer issued cautiously worded statements that said the incident would be investigated. On Monday, the city suspended Amiott without pay for 15 days and said he could face further discipline. On Thursday, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said it has discussed the incident with federal authorities and is investigating.
Amiott has had a spotty record as a police officer in Euclid and in Mentor, a suburban Cleveland department that allowed him to resign rather than be fired in April 2014 for lying to other officers about why he stopped a man for a suspended license.
He was hired in Euclid five months later. His Euclid personnel file shows he has been reprimanded for hitting a driver with a handgun, mishandling evidence, losing his temper in front of his commanding officer and being involved in two crashes in police vehicles.
Hubbard is next due in court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 21.