In a story you’ll see only on Local 24, the Local I-Team’s Maria Hallas exposes an arrest caught on camera.
The Memphis Police Department launched an administrative investigation into the arrest after the Local I-Team brought it to their attention.
Maria and a Local 24 photographer were at the Country Squire Apartments in Cordova, working on an unrelated story, when they heard sirens. Police were called to handle a domestic violence dispute. When they tried to arrest the suspect, he ran right in front of the camera as they were recording.
You can see the suspect as he runs from police. He drops to the ground, the officer strikes his right arm with a baton, kicks the same arm, and then his side. The officer orders him to put his hands behind his back and radios for help.
The officer later pulls him up by his handcuffs with an arm around his neck, and as they get to the squad car, shoves the man in with his foot.
State Representative G.A. Hardaway watched the video and said he was outraged by what he saw.
“There’s obviously some abuse going on here, excessive force. When I’m looking at a young man that’s on the ground and supporting himself with one arm laying down, that is not a position where he’s a threat to anybody standing,” said Hardaway.
Steve Mulroy, a former federal prosecutor and civil rights lawyer for the Department of Justice, agrees.
“When the suspect was already down on the ground with his arms indicating that he was going to comply, offering no resistance and not failing to obey any commands from the officer, it was not justified for the officer to strike him with the nightstick or to kick him,” said Mulroy.
Hardaway said the officer’s conduct endangers not only Memphians, but also other officers, because it feeds into the community’s distrust of police.
“That’s unacceptable, completely unacceptable. It unravels every bit of goodwill that has been rolled out. Any child that sees that is going to be imprinted with it for lifetime. Any adult is going to be imprinted with it. They’re going to teach their children that this is what the police do,” said Hardaway.
Not everyone agrees. Out for a walk with his wife and son, James Richey witnessed the arrest. He was pleased with the officer’s response.
“They pretty much followed standard procedures that an MPD officer would follow, took him down. You had the other officers detain him,” said Richey.
The Local I-Team shared the video with the Memphis Police Department. They refused to talk about this case, but say they’ve launched an administrative investigation. The suspect was also contacted; at first he said he felt he was treated wrongly, but now will not talk.
According to the police report, the suspect in this case hit a woman and in the process hit his child. The report says he fought with police. MPD is not talking but the police union is. Memphis Police Association president Mike Williams watched the video and shared his thoughts. (Note: When he says “ASP” he is referring to the officer’s baton.)
“I don’t think they took it to a point, to me, to where it was excessive because I don’t think anybody had to go to the hospital, anyone was injured. You know, I think they deployed the ASP right because you are allowed to strike people in the fatty parts of the body. But I don’t know if citizens are ready to see that, you know, because they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, they beat him,’” said Williams.
So what do you think about the video? Share your opinion. Based on what you just watched, do you feel the officer’s conduct was reasonable or unnecessary?