Greater Cleveland RTA and RTA Police Officer Sued for Unlawful Arrest and Assault on Citizen

Complaint alleges officer arrested and assaulted Plaintiff without probable cause; RTA suspended officer and placed him on probation for "viola[ting] departmental procedures" and "fail[ing] to control the situation that led to an escalation of the incident and a use of force, which may have been avoided."

CLEVELAND, OHIO - Today, Jessica Ferrato, a Lakewood, OH resident, filed a state-court complaint arising from her unlawful arrest and assault by RTA police officer Jonathan Pacholke on March 29, 2015.

The complaint alleges that Officer Pacholke arrested Ms. Ferrato, tackling and pinning her to the ground, despite having no reason for the arrest. This happened after Ms. Ferrato repeatedly complied with Officer Pacholke's demands that she show him a valid RTA pass, and she explained to Officer Pacholke that he had no right to detain her.

After an internal investigation of the incident, the RTA concluded that it would not proceed with criminal charges against Ms. Ferrato despite Officer Pacholke's issuance of a citation against her. The RTA also issued a public apology for Officer Pacholke's conduct and suspended his employment before placing him on a year-long probation for "viola[ting] departmental procedures" and "fail[ure] to control the situation that led to an escalation of the incident and a use of force, which may have been avoided."

Ms. Ferrato's suit was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and alleges claims for U.S. constitutional violations, including for unlawful seizure and excessive force under the Fourth Amendment, and Ohio-law claims for battery and false arrest. Ms. Ferrato is represented by Peter Pattakos, Subodh Chandra, and Ashlie Case Sletvold of the Chandra Law Firm.

Pattakos said, "Officer Pacholke's conduct crossed clear constitutional boundaries as to when a police officer is permitted to arrest and use force. It's a shame that this matter couldn't be resolved without litigation, but Ms. Ferrato is committed to vindicating her rights and helping to ensure that what happened to her doesn't happen to others."

Click here for official complaint.