Police Abuse

Cops Mistook Colostomy Bag for Gun, Tased and 'Maliciously' Charged Man, Lawsuit Alleges

"A shit bag, man!"


body cam

A lawsuit accuses police in Euclid, Ohio, of mistaking a colostomy bag for a gun, pulling the bag's owner out of his car, tasing him, and then maliciously charging him with obstructing official business, resisting arrest, and criminal trespass.

It took seven months before the charges against Lamar Wright were dropped, but don't expect anyone to be punished for what he endured. Even if Wright prevails in his suit—via a jury or, more likely, through a settlement—the prosecutors who abetted the cops by dragging the charges out for more than half a year are highly unlikely to be held accountable themselves.

Wright says he pulled his rental car into a driveway to use his cell phone "safely" when two armed men approached him. After he realized they were plainclothes cops, he says he put his phone on his dashboard, and then one of the officers grabbed him by the arm through the window. The cop yelled at Wright to show his hands, then pulled him out of the car and tased him just as Wright was trying to explain his colostomy bag.

"I told you I got a bag on," Wright yelled at the cop. "What's a bag?" "A shit bag, man!"

The interaction was caught on body camera:

In his lawsuit, Wright claims he was not released from custody after posting bond, instead remaining in detention. He says he was taken to the county jail and searched with a full-body x-ray scanner and not released until four to five hours after posting bond. He also alleges the cops laughed at him being in pain.

"I filed this case to stand up against police brutality, and to stand with other victims of senseless attacks by officers from the Euclid Police Department. These officers' illegal treatment of people in the city must stop," Wright said in a statement. "We need justice for all the victims of the EPD."

The Cleveland Scene notes two other recent police incidents in Euclid. One is the fatal police shooting of Luke Stewart, in which no charges were brought. (The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.) The other is a violent traffic arrest that did in fact lead to the firing of a police officer—an outcome that could lead to some hope here that, at the very least, some incompetent cops might be removed from their jobs.

Scene also provides a kicker: The department announced last week that it had won a AAA Platinum Award for community traffic safety.