A U.S. police officer is currently under investigation for use of excessive force after video footage showed him tasering a black man who appeared to show no resistance to arrest.
The suspect was reportedly stopped for theft in Virginia on September 24, but witnesses say there was no reason for the cop to use his taser on the man and the short clip uploaded to Facebook seems to corroborate that line of thinking.
In the video, the officer can be seen aiming his taser at the man and instructing him to turn around and place his hands on the police cruiser. However, when the man calmly complies, the officer tasers him, causing the man to scream and fall to the ground.
The officer continues to point his weapon and yells at the man to ‘roll over’, as one onlooker can be heard shouting: “What did you do that for?”
Speaking to Fox 5, the man who shot the video said:
A gentleman just happened to be walking down the sidewalk and the cop pulls up in front of him and tells him to turn over. And as soon as he has his back turned toward him, he tasers him. He didn’t see it coming. He told him to turn around. He turned around and complied. And boom he popped out his taser and he shot at him.
Another witness pointed out to the channel that the man had made no attempt to flee the scene so the officer ‘didn’t have to taser him like he did’.
The Fairfax Police Department have since issued a statement saying ‘the facts and circumstances which led to the deployment of a electronic control weapon [are being investigated]’.
— FairfaxCounty Police (@fairfaxpolice) September 26, 2015
Lt Brooke Wright of the Fairfax Police Department added:
They’re trying to find all the witnesses they can to determine what happened prior to this event and what happened after the event. And it’s very hard to tell from a video, when you have a very short snapshot in time, what events occurred.
On that short snippet, it does appear concerning. And that’s why we’re looking into it. The community has a right to be concerned. We’re concerned anytime something on its face in that way looks like it’s an unjustified use of force and that’s to be determined. If the officer is wrong, he’ll be held accountable.
Incredibly, this is actually the second taser scandal involving the Fairfax Police Department in less than a month, after footage emerged earlier in September showing deputies wrestling a mentally ill woman to the ground and repeatedly shocking her. Natasha McKenna fell into a coma as a result of the shocks and died several days later. No charges were pressed against the cops on that occasion, which sets a worrying precedent for issues like these.