I'm Destinee and this is where I share my life, my work, and my heart. As an activist and multi-passionate creative, you'll find a little bit of everything I love here. I may not be for everyone, but I hope that you'll feel welcomed, encouraged, and inspired from this online space.
It is National Police Week and in honor of that, let’s take a walk down memory lane. I’ll be sharing the story of Amos F. Jones in this post. Did you know that in 1981, two Canton Police officers beat a Black man to the point he had three fractured ribs and a shoulder injury? Then they locked him in the trunk of their squad car. These officers were the very first in the history of the department to be disciplined for using excessive force.
After drinking a few beers, 20 year old, Amos F. Jones, was using a pay phone in the Highland Park public housing community where he lived to call a friend when Canton Police Officers, Daniel Koch and Richard Malone pulled up in their squad car claiming they received reports of a shooting and wanted to know if Amos Jones had a gun on him. After Amos informed the officers that he was unarmed, they threw Amos to the ground, handcuffed him, and began kicking and beating him with a nightstick. Amos reportedly suffered from three fractured ribs and a shoulder injury as a result of the beating, and was denied medical attention upon his arrest.
After the initial beating, the officers then claimed they witnessed Amos trying to smash car windows with his head. They placed him under arrest for “disorderly conduct while intoxicated” and “resisting arrest.” Instead of following typical arrest procedure and placing Amos in the backseat of their squad car to transport him for processing, they escorted him to the trunk of their car and demanded him to get in. Amos complied with their demand and got in the trunk. They locked him in the trunk of the car for upwards of 30 minutes before taking him to jail.
Officers Koch and Malone did not provide any evidence of their allegations that Amos was trying to smash car windows. However, he was still convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest anyway. According to a lawsuit later filed by Amos, he was initially sentenced to 2 days in the Stark County Jail and was fined $150 plus $36 in costs, but when he could not afford to pay the fines, the judge ordered him to serve an additional 15 days in jail.
In August of 1981, Amos Jones filed a $50 million lawsuit alleging police brutality and excessive force, however, despite the federal lawsuit, Officers Koch and Malone remained on the force without any disciplinary action for months, even though multiple witnesses had come forward supporting Amos’ recollection of the incident and had passed lie detector tests.
Only after two city council members protested the lack of action were the officers fired the following January, making Officers Koch and Malone the first officers in the history of the Canton Police Department to ever be disciplined for using excessive force. At the time, there were at least 10 other civil rights lawsuits pending involving charges of police misconduct.
On December 14, 1981, Amos Jones was arrested a second time by Canton Police Officer Ronald Allen. He was arrested without probable cause and was charged with “falsification” and “consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle.” Amos believed this arrest was in retaliation for filing the lawsuit against the Canton Police Department and the city.
The charges from this arrest were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
In November 1982, Amos Jones, together with other plaintiffs, filed a new $4 million class action lawsuit. The suit alleged police brutality, excessive force, among other allegations that Canton Police Officers were involved in soliciting sexual favors from, mostly, minority women. The suit also stated that although the charges from Amos’ second arrest were dismissed, Amos was asked to sign a statement agreeing that he would not sue the city for that arrest.
The class action suit alleges that Amos was denied due process of law and equal protection during the arrest, as well as during his arraignment, trial, and sentencing. It also alleges that during his arraignment, his rights were not explained to him and he was not allowed to have an attorney present.
Officers Koch and Malone were suspended from the department in January 1982, eight months after the initial arrest, and subsequently fired by Canton Safety Director, Frank Burnosky. Both officers appealed their dismissals to the 5th District Court of Appeals. No follow-up information regarding their appeal could be found at the time of this post.
Amos Jones settled outside of court for just $15,000 in 1984. This payment was covered by insurance according to the Canton Law Department.
People need to know what the Canton Police Department did to Amos Jones in 1981. It’s all a part of a violent and racist pattern of behavior within that department. A pattern that affects the community still today. Amos Jones’ story was incredibly upsetting to me. Not only because he is a human being that did not at all deserve what they did to him; but because in 1981, my Black father would’ve been around the same age as Amos. Seeing people that look like your loved ones be brutalized over and over again is traumatizing. It really does something different to your body’s fight or flight response.
I’m sure the Canton Police Department has long since forgotten about Amos Jones. But if my research of police brutality serves any purpose, it’s to ensure that YOU don’t forget about people like Amos Jones. I will never stop talking about this because it’s still happening today. It’s been over 40 years since they beat and stuffed Amos Jones into the trunk of their car like he was trash. Nothing has changed and until it does, I will keep talking about it. Never forget what the Canton Police Department did to Amos F. Jones and many others.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these posts as well.
As a side note: I spent about 12 hours researching Amos Jones’ case. It takes time to find historical documentation of what occurred . Then it took another 2-3 hours to compile my research into a post for my readers. If you learned something from this post or feel compelled to support the work that I do, I’ll add my Cashapp and Venmo below if you’d like to leave me a tip or buy me a drink. Your support in my content is never expected, but always appreciated. A simple share of this post helps too! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Sources: The Akron Beacon Journal