Three DC Metropolitan Police officers have been placed on leave after a cellphone recording has gone viral, showing a black suspect being punched in the face a dozen times during an arrest on gun possession charges.
During a press conference held on Monday, DC Police Chief Robert Contee condemned the actions of his officers seen in the footage.
‘I am embarrassed, disturbed, disheartened, and ashamed of what I’ve seen,’ Contee said, as NBC4 Washington reported.
The officer who was videotaped punching the 23-year-old armed man on Sunday, and his two colleagues who apparently failed to stop him, had their police powers revoked and were placed on non-contact status pending criminal and administrative investigations.
A viral video shows a white DC Metro police officer, center, punching a black suspect a dozen times during a weapons-related arrest on Sunday
Police said they detained the 23-year-old man after witnessing a drug deal, and then found an illegal loaded gun in his waistband
Video, which has been viewed on social media more than 11million times, showing cops pinning the suspect to a fence. One of the officers punches the man in the face while his colleagues hold him down
The suspect was arrested on gun possession, assault and resisting arrest charges, which were then all dropped
Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office has dropped all charges against the suspect and dismissed the case.
The incident began unfolding on Sunday near the intersection of 16th Street and V Street SE, where police reported witnessing a ‘hand-to-hand drug transaction.’
The officers swept in, detained the 23-year-old, conducted a pat-down search and felt a gun tucked in his waistband.
Contee said the firearm was a loaded .45 caliber pistol, which the suspect had no legal right to possess.
‘This is not the way we train our members to get illegal firearms off the streets,’ Contee said on Monday.
Video of the suspect’s arrest, which was shared by Snoop Dog on his Instagram page and viewed more than 11million times, shows a gaggle of police officers struggling with the suspect, who is pinned to a fence. Just a few seconds later, one of the cops suddenly punches the 23-year-old in the face with a closed fist while his colleagues hold the man down.
The officer, who appears to be white, proceeds to strike the suspect a dozen times, while another officer tries to keep angry onlookers at bay.
Three of the officers at the scene had their police powers revoked and were placed on non-contact status pending criminal and administrative investigations
A still image that was released by the DC Police Union shows an officer holding a loaded .45 caliber ‘ghost gun’ that was retrieved from the suspect’s waistband
‘Why are you punching him?’ a witness yells at the police, who reply that they are trying to handcuff the suspect.
‘No, you’re not!’ the witness shouts back.
Police ultimately charged the 23-year-old suspect with possession of an unregistered firearm, carrying a pistol without a license, unlawful possession of ammunition, assault on an officer while armed and resisting arrest.
All charges, however, were dropped after the prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that it will not be pursuing the criminal case.
Chief Contee said he would refer the three officers seen in the video to the US Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution.
The US attorney’s Office told The Washington Post that it is ‘examining the actions’ of the officers.
The DC Police union released a statement defending the actions of the officers, who were said to have been deployed to the neighborhood ‘specifically with orders to “get guns off the street”‘ in response to a dramatic spike in violent crimes.
‘While some have jumped to judgment concerning the use of force used by the officers, one thing is certain, the use of force of any kind is not easy to watch,’ the statement from Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton read.
The union boss claimed that the loaded ‘ghost gun’ that was found in the suspect’s possession ‘was unsecured and a danger to the police officer, the suspects and anyone nearby.’
DC Police Chief Robert Contee said during a press conference on Monday that he was ’embarrassed, disturbed, disheartened, and ashamed’ of what he saw in the video
The DC Police Union has released a statement defending the actions of the officers
Pemberton further argued that the suspect was resisting and trying to retrieve the gun from his waistband during the arrest.
‘In this case, these officers used a minimal amount a [sic] force to subdue a violent suspect in possession of an illegal firearm,’ he wrote. ‘The suspect made every indication that he was not afraid or reluctant to use the weapon.’
Pemberton insisted that the officers in the video were acting ‘within their legal authority’ to protect themselves and the public ‘from an armed, and potentially, violent offender.’
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen slammed the actions by the officers on the video as ‘outrageous’ and demanded accountability.