Resolved Case

Injured Citizen Wins Record Civil Rights Verdict Against Police Department

DiCello Levitt wins $50 million verdict on behalf of citizen injured by police misconduct.

DiCello Levitt’s trial team was awarded Public Justice’s 2021 Trial Lawyer of the Year for leading the Arnold Black v. Detective Randy Hicks case to a groundbreaking verdict after multiple trials. The firm’s investigation into Arnold Black’s claims against the East Cleveland Police Department revealed a shocking culture of corruption and abuse within the department. DiCello Levitt, led by attorneys Bobby DiCello, Mark DiCello, and Justin Hawal, tried the case against the city, its chief of police, and the arresting officers.

In his trial testimony, Detective Randy Hicks described the systemic constitutional violations within the department. A group of officers called the “Jump Out Boys” would regularly ride in an unmarked vehicle looking for “possible drug dealers.” The officers would then jump out of the vehicle and assault random citizens without probable cause, usually targeting Black people.

In 2012, Hicks and a uniformed patrolman stopped Black without probable cause, handcuffed him, and tore apart his Chevy Silverado in search of drugs. They positioned him on the bumper of his pickup, and Detective Hicks questioned him about who sold drugs in East Cleveland. When Black could not answer, Hicks struck him repeatedly on the head and face causing injuries that later required brain surgery and caused Black long-term brain damage.

Hicks then ordered Black to be taken to the East Cleveland jail, where he was held in a storage closet with no windows, bedding, toilet, shower, or food for four days. Officers gave Black one carton of milk. He urinated in a bucket placed in the closet with him.

The City of East Cleveland went on to “lose” or destroy all police reports, evidence, internal affairs documents, and dashboard camera videos detailing the circumstances of Black’s arrest.

After multiple trials, a Cuyahoga County jury awarded Black a record $50 million verdict that was upheld on appeal.

“Unless we all realize that what we do as trial lawyers is the last hope for an orderly society, things will not change. We have to take seriously the idea that we serve,” said lead attorney Bobby DiCello. “Arnold Black, thank you for your courage, and thank you for fighting with us to preserve your dignity.”

Arnold Black v. Detective Randy Hicks, et al., Case No. CV-14-826010 (Ohio Dist. Ct., Cuyahoga Cty.).