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RTA pays $45,000 to Lakewood woman assaulted by RTA police officer

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Complaint alleged officer arrested and assaulted Plaintiff without probable cause; RTA suspended officer and placed him on probation

CLEVELAND, OHIO - The Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority (RTA) has paid $45,000 to Jessica Ferrato, in settlement of her lawsuit for being unlawfully assaulted by now-former RTA police officer Jonathan Pacholke in March 2015 as she was exiting the Lakewood W 117th Street station. Ferrato sued the RTA and Pacholke in February 2016, alleging 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.

The complaint alleged that 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 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."

"This settlement helps remedy an injustice," said Ferrato's attorney Peter Pattakos, of The Chandra Law Firm LLC in Cleveland Ohio. "A police officer lost his temper when a woman questioned him in a way that he didn't like, but was perfectly legal. The Constitution protects our right to peacefully disagree with police tactics, and it's always wrong when officers retaliate against such disagreement with violence. We hope this result will encourage RTA to train its officers to keep their tempers in check and respect citizens' constitutional rights."

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