VIDEO: Black men throw garbage at white D.C. police officers during arrest, 3 officers suspended for striking back
A white officer was seen punching a black suspect in the face multiple times while attempting to remove the man’s gun from his waistband while bystanders threw garbage and chairs at him.
One of the bystanders can be heard saying, “Aye! Why you punching him? Why you punching him?” and one of the officers responds, saying, “We’re trying to put him in cuffs!”
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Video of the altercation has gone viral on social media, with SnoopDogg’s repost amassing over 11 million views.
D.C. Police Chief Contee said that officers witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction that prompted the arrest. During the pat-down, they felt a gun in one man’s waistband. The suspect is repeatedly punched in the face as they attempt to restrain and cuff him. One of the officers appears to say “I’ll punch him again,” when a cuffing attempt fails. Throughout the video, police are verbally heckled by bystanders who threw garbage cans and chairs at the officers.
The officers were later able to remove the gun from the man’s waistband.
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D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” of the officers’ conduct. He said a “straight strike” is permissible for an officer to use, but maintains that striking a person in the face was not the appropriate tactic to engage in this situation.
“We’re at the point where this officer made contact with this individual, I mean, that’s the point where, you know, my outrage is – I understand we got to get illegal guns off the street, but it’s the way that we go about doing the things that we do. That is not consistent with our training, that is not consistent with our tactics, it’s not consistent with our policies, with our procedures.”
Contee also said the incident further damages the credibility of the department at a time when they are trying to rebuild community-police relations.
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The DC Police Union released a statement about the incident on Monday night.
“MPD officers know that in the current political environment every action they take will be scrutinized. Police officers make split-second decisions about their safety and the safety of those around them. Scrutiny, however, is performed with a microscope as though the circumstances took place in a laboratory. That is not the case … The suspect had access to a loaded .45 caliber weapon, was resisting arrest and as such a danger to every person in range of a bullet. We urge everyone to reserve judgment pending the outcome of the respective independent investigations.”
Three of the officers involved in the altercation have been placed on administrative leave while an internal investigation is being conducted. D.C. police are also referring the case to the United States Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges against the officers.
The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Kiman Johnson, appeared in court on charges of resisting arrest, assault on a police officer – which is a felony – and carrying an illegal firearm.
Chief Contee did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on the incident.