Detriot police officials are reviewing a viral video of officers tussling with a Black man in front of a home as they attempt to arrest him after he allegedly tried to get into his own vehicle after locking his keys inside.
Witnesses claim that the officers unlawfully detained the man, wrestling him down to be handcuffed. The department officials say the body camera footage shows the officers took appropriate action after witnessing the man trying to break into a car on the street. The probe is to assess whether or not the cops’ use of force was excessive or appropriate for the situation.
Detroit Police Deputy Chief Melissa Gardner said there is an ongoing investigation and that the department wants to be transparent. In a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 19, she said the detained man, who is in his 30s, used a coat hanger to try to break into a car on the 14900 block of East State Fair.
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In a six-minute Facebook Live video broadcast on Sept. 18 around 5:30 p.m., the officers are seen roughing up a man. Off-camera voices criticized the officers, claiming they acted hastily when the man was not committing a crime.
Officers attempted to handcuff the man, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter hoodie after he ran onto a porch of a house. He resisted them, which swiftly escalated the altercation. One officer was even seen on the footage pummeling the man as they grabbed him.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE.
Several onlookers can be heard on and off-camera shouting at the officers to “let him go.”
Another person watching the melee jumps in. He is seen first in the doorway of the house but comes toward one officer and pushes him. Because the second man came up from behind him, the officer didn’t see the shove.
As the suspect falls to the ground, officers are seen putting their weight on him, one of the police officers wraps the man’s hoodie over his head, to which the man could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”
As the scuffle escalates, the officers request backup, and within minutes, two more officers arrive on the scene. One officer draws his firearm in an attempt to control the crowd. Despite their efforts, the crowd continues to tell them they are making a mistake.
Detroit Police Chief James White said in a prepared statement that he reviewed the footage from the officers and their assessment of the incident.
“One officer asked the subject for his name, and the subject refused to provide it. For reasons that are not entirely clear, it appears that other individuals at the location were encouraging the subject not to provide his name,” he said, according to The Detroit News.
“The officer then informed the subject that he was being detained,” White’s statement continued. “The subject then became extremely irate, and there came a point when he appeared to direct another individual to let a pit bull loose against the officers.”
He also said the body camera footage corroborated the officers’ statements.
This is an issue that Deputy Chief Gardner says is a concern for the department as it commits to an internal investigation.
“When you see videos like that, there are going to be concerns,” Gardner told Detroit News. “Concerns for the community, concerns on how they may view law enforcement because they are seeing one side of a video at the time.”
The man, as seen in the video, locked himself out of his car and attempted to re-enter it. He was arrested but not charged. Two of the officers are on administrative duties during the ongoing investigation.