CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A video circulating of a man being arrested by Wickliffe Police has caused controversy at a time when tensions are already high between the African-American community and law enforcement. Police suspect the original video was put on social media by a family member of the man who is the focus in the video.
But now Wickliffe Police have released nearly two hours of body cam video of that same arrest. Lieutenant Pat Hengst, who is the Public Information Officer with the Wickliffe Police Department, says “The incident is from back in February, so it was quite a while ago. It came to our attention in the last couple of weeks. Because of the national climate I think in general. We started getting some not so pleasant messages in our in box calling us names and that kind of stuff - accusing us of conduct. It really continued to escalate.”
The man in the video who has not been identified was being pulled over for a routine traffic stop-failing to use a proper turn signal when changing lanes. But instead of staying in his car during the traffic stop as ordered by the officer, the man got out and proceeded to walk to his mother’s house as he tells the officer on the video. On the body cam video he repeatedly ignores the police officer’s commands. At one point she grabs his arm to attempt to get him to stop after ordering him to stop doesn’t work, and then she pulls out her gun and orders him to the ground, with no results.
Lt. Hengst says, “She tells him to stop, he does not stop. In fact I believe you count in the video that more than 25 times he’s told to stop what he’s doing, put his hands up, to get on the ground, in the car or some variation of those things. In spite of being told 25 times, he doesn’t do what he’s being told to do.”
According to Lt. Hengst, officers are taught that the amount of force they apply is dependent on the response they get from the person they are dealing with at the time. When a second officer arrives as backup he tells the man to get on the ground five-times according to the video or he will be tased, and that’s exactly what happened.
It ends up the suspect was wanted on felony warrants out of Cuyahoga County for failing to register as a sex offender and violating probation.
How the officer’s handled, the case was reviewed back in February and found that proper procedures were used.
Now Wickliffe Police hope the public will listen to law enforcement’s side of the story and watch how the story unfolded on body cam video.
“You can watch it, and then people can draw their own conclusions. But we don’t want to be accused of hiding it, or running away from it, because that’s not the case at all,” Lt. Hengst said.