A US police officer is under investigation for excessive use of force, after a video emerged of the officer tasing a man who appeared to show no resistance. Witnesses who saw the incident in Fairfax County, Virginia, said “there was no reason to taser the man.”
Police said the suspect was wanted in connection with a theft and approached him on September 24. A video posted on social media showed a police officer holding a taser, while issuing the man with instructions. The video shows the suspect complying and turning around to put his hands on top of the police vehicle. However, the law enforcement officer decided to taser the man, despite him appearing to show no resistance.
“He did not try to run or nothing. That was wrong [by] the police, unless he was wanted. But [even] if he was wanted, the guy didn’t have to taser him like he did,” a witness told Fox 5 television.
Meanwhile, the man who filmed the video also spoke to Fox 5 to give his account of what had happened, adding that he could see no reason for the police officer using such excessive force.
“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,” said the video-maker, who asked to remain anonymous.
“He told him to turn around. He turned around, he complied. And boom – he popped out his taser and he shot at him,” the video-maker added.
Lt. Brooke Wright from the Fairfax County Police Department said the officer at the center of the allegations is being investigated over the incident.
“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,” Lt. Wright said.
Lt. Wright also admitted that the video showing the incident did look “concerning.”
“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,” she added.
The suspect who was on the receiving end of the police officer’s taser was later arrested in connection with theft.
This is the second taser scandal involving the Fairfax County Police Force in less than a month.
Earlier in September, the force released a video showing deputies struggling with a mentally ill woman, who died after being repeatedly shocked with a stun gun. The video was only made public after the state decided not to press charges.
A team of deputies, dressed in full biohazard gear with shields and masks, wrestled McKenna on the ground and struggled with her for over 20 minutes on February 3.
“You promised you wouldn’t kill me,” McKenna says as she stumbled out of the cell, naked. “I didn’t do anything.” At one point, she was shocked by a taser four times, and passed out. She lapsed into a coma and died several days later.
The Virginia medical examiner who conducted McKenna’s autopsy, Dr. Jocelyn Posthumus, ruled the official cause of death to be “excited delirium associated with physical restraint including use of [a] conducted energy device.”
Bryan Wolfe, a former Fairfax City police officer and supervisor, told the Washington Post in July that “the Natasha McKenna case is one of the biggest mismanaged and mishandled cases I’ve seen in 30 years of police work.”
He added that the officers involved lacked basic training skills and handled the incident poorly.
“With crisis intervention training, deputies would have been able to de-escalate her actions that day,” he added.