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Investigator: Cop upset arrested Morehouse grad won't apologize for claiming racism

6:21 PM, Nov 29, 2010   |    comments
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But the arresting officer denounced the deal in Cleveland Municipal Court that allows Jason Ruiz, 27, to enter a six-month supervised probation program for first-time offenders that will allow Ruiz to avoid a conviction if he successfully completes it. 

Officer Anthony Sauto told the judge he feels Ruiz should have apologized for his actions that night, as well as the subsequent media frenzy that erupted when Ruiz's attorney, NAACP President George Forbes, and Cleveland City Councilmen Zach Reed and Jeff Johnson claimed the arrest was racially motivated.

"There was no reason for me to be called a racist," Sauto said after the hearing. "These guys were in the wrong...I was just trying to do my job and that should have been the end of it. It shouldn't have gotten to this. We can't have Forbes, Zach Reed and Jeff Johnson running around and making something out of nothing."

Ruiz and his attorney, Helen Forbes Field, declined to comment after the hearing because the probation department must still determine if Ruiz qualifies for the Selective Intervention Program.

Ruiz, who was recruited to work at high-powered companies from the prestigious Morehouse College, was arrested Aug. 21 at closing time outside the Velvet Dog on West 6th Street.

He was charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespass, accused of refusing to leave the bar, and then trying to swing his left hand at Sauto while the officer was trying to handcuff him, according to the report.

Ruiz later tried to grab the officer's belt, possibly going for his gun, so Sauto gave Ruiz a "few strikes" to his right eye.

At the time, George Forbes said the arrest was racially motivated, claiming the officer "put a headlock on him, and hit him five times, like Gorgeous George or some wrestler."

The arrest also came six weeks after Mayor Frank Jackson announced the city had arranged for federal prosecutors to provide sensitivity training to bar owners and workers in response to allegations by the NAACP that bars were discriminating against black patrons.

But then police released surveillance video that they said backed up the officers' claim.

The union representing Sauto also was furious that the city offered Ruiz a deal that didn't require him to apologize, saying Ruiz lied about what happened that night. 

"Look what we got here," said Steve Loomis, head of the Cleveland Patrolmen's Association. "It's a freaking circus. For what? 'cause they don't want him to apologize. The officer did nothing wrong. He did his job."


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