The Memphis, Tenn., Police Department has launched an investigation after a local news team captured a controversial arrest on camera, Local 24 reports.
In the video of the arrest, caught by Local 24, the suspect, who was said to be involved in a domestic dispute, can be seen running from police. Eventually the suspect drops to the ground, raising one hand in a gesture that could be interpreted as surrender. The pursuing officer strikes the young man’s raised arm with his baton before kicking the same arm and then kicking him in the side until he lies on his stomach.
The officer then orders the suspect to put his hand behind his back and radios for help. Later on in the footage, the officer can be seen pulling the suspect to his feet, using the handcuffs, and placing one arm around his neck before leading him to the squad car, which he shoves the young man into with his foot.
The footage has sparked varying reactions about the apparent use of force.
“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,” Tennessee state Rep. G.A. Hardaway told the station.
“That’s unacceptable, completely unacceptable,” he added. “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.”
Steve Mulroy, a former federal prosecutor and civil rights lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, agreed with the lawmaker. “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,” Mulroy said.
Others, however, think that the officer was well within his rights to approach the suspect the way he did.
“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,” Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams countered. “You know, I think they deployed [his baton] 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.’ “
One passerby, who witnessed the arrest, agreed with Williams.