Put-in-Bay village police and the village of Put-in-Bay are being sued in U.S. District Court by a man who says he was brutally beaten and pepper sprayed by officers last September.
Ettore Scassa, 46, of Carrolton also alleges officers nearly separated his ear as they tried to handle an alleged assault unrelated to Scassa, according to his attorney Tom DeBacco.
"They threw him down," DeBacco said. "They maced him. They pulled his ear partially off his head."
DeBacco said Scassa had just got off a ferry boat and began inquiring with officers about his son who was accused of assaulting someone.
Without hesitation, seven officers violently assaulted him, according to DeBacco and the lawsuit.
"The officers placed (Scassa) in handcuffs and continued to punch and kick him, tearing on his ear, and continued to pepper spray him even though he was completely helpless and defenseless," the complaint says.
Scassa was sober, according to his attorney.
"He had not consumed a drop of alcohol," DeBacco said.
A stigma exists regarding this particular police department, he said, and they played right into it in this instance.
"They've done it before," DeBacco said. "They don't learn."
DeBacco and Scassa have numerous concerns how the incident was handled, most notably the officers' use of pepper spray.
"Countless full canisters of pepper spray were emptied onto the plaintiff's face and directly into his ear laceration and eyes," the lawsuit says.
The amount of mace used was so excessive, DeBacco said, officers gagged as they walked near Scassa's holding cell the night of the alleged incident.
"The video also shows police officers and EMS personnel gagging, choking, sneezing and running from the cell hours after the incident due to the immense amount of pepper spray or mace utilized," the lawsuit states.
Another contention in the lawsuit: Police seemingly decided not to photograph the alleged victim immediately after he was allegedly maced.
"Pictures exist that show (Scassa's) injuries nearly 24 hours after the beating as the police department took no pictures of the defendant after what they had done."
Scassa was charged with four misdemeanors the night of the alleged incident, and eventually sentenced to 30 days in jail.
All but one count was dismissed by Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan as Scassa pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge.
The lawsuit states he accepted this agreement as part of a package deal to get assault charges dismissed for his son.