LAUREL – Last week, a video appeared on Twitter showing an officer on top of a man in handcuffs and forcefully subduing him. It turned out the man, Giovanti Young, tried to escape from the scene of a traffic stop, but some still believe the officer used too much force when handling Young.
The video made it through Twitter with more than 9,000 retweets and thousands of replies. Users were upset about the way the arrest was handled.
“Why the extra beating if the cuffs are already on?” Dan Rivers, @RiverzDaniel on Twitter, said.
Kimberly Woodard, @BeingKimmie on Twitter, said she lives close to Prince George’s County in Washington, D.C. and is not surprised to see the officer being aggressive with Young.
However, Prince George’s County Police Department Deputy Police Chief Hank Stawinski said Young got too aggressive with officers and the force used on him became warranted in the situation because of his aggression. The small Twitter snippet does not tell the entire story, he said.
“There’s a one-dimensional picture of this officer being painted across this country that doesn’t represent who he is and doesn’t represent who we are,” Stawinski said. “The individual would not yield and unfortunately force had to be used. But it was used in a measureable way to gain control.”
There were also two warrants out for Young’s arrest, he said, and he trying to escape from officers only escalated the situation.
The dash camera footage posted to YouTube by the Prince George’s Police Department (PGPD) shows Young being taken to the ground by officers during his arrest. However, Young’s legs and a small portion of the officers can be seen in the video. At the end of the video, Young can be seen yelling at officers, saying “I’m not going anywhere! Get off of me!”
Some citizens do not believe the force used was warranted, even after seeing the dash cam video posted by the PGPD. David Adams, a county resident who lives in Brandywine, said he does not believe trying to escape from an officer warrants the force used by the officer.
“That was just not needed,” Adams said. “There was no need for him to be that aggressive. This happens all the time, though. This is another reason why we need body cameras.”
Adams said body cameras could potentially prevent things like this from happening in the future because of the close contact it would bring between officers and those they interact with. Even if Young is aggressive with officers, he said, there needs to be some type of measured approach in retaliation.
The dash camera is not enough, Adams said, because the entire scene could not be captured on footage from the dash camera angle. If the officers had body cameras, the entire incident would have been seen.
Adams is not the only one who believes the need of body cameras is as pressing as ever. According to a survey of 880 people conducted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, nine out of 10 Americans want officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
“Support reaches at least 80 percent among each racial group, with intense support especially among African Americans,” the survey said. “Eighty-eight percent of the public also believes the cameras would help hold police accountable and over two-thirds feel they would reduce brutality.”
The Prince George’s County Police Department has said they are looking to implement a body camera program by the end of the year. The department has been looking to procure funding for a body camera pilot program since earlier this summer, Police Chief Mark Magaw previously said.
Alan Lee, an information technology manager for the department, said the $200,000 previously procured by the department will equip eight to 10 police squadrons with body cameras and the programs will run for six to eight months. The results will determine how the department should fund the program in the next fiscal year.
“It would be enough for us to really, physically start to track what is going on out there,” Lee said.
Nearly 66 percent of Americans feel it is very important police work with their communities and civil rights advocates to establish usage polices for cameras and footage, according to the survey.
“While the public supports more body cameras, they also firmly believe that in order for them to be most effective, there must be clear guidelines for how they are used and they must have buy-in from the community,” the survey said.
The PGDP previously said they will use the pilot program to determine how they set up the policies regarding the body cameras, how the footage is recorded and stored, and what footage officers can access at any time.
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