Sep 3 2013

Police in North Attleborough recorded beating and pepper spraying man during arrest

Dr. Q

A man has published a video depicting North Attleborough police beating and pepper spraying his friend, who was a suspect in a domestic violence case. At first, the man refused orders to get on the ground as police beat and pepper sprayed him, but after he fell to his knees, the police continued beating him.

Here’s a video about the incident from Fox 25/WFXT:

The [North Attleborough Police Department] issued a press release after a video was released showing officers in a violent struggle with one man, ordering him to the ground, and hitting him with what appeared to be batons.

Officers received a domestic disturbance call Sunday from a woman claiming her ex-boyfriend was strangling her and attempting to prevent her from calling police; however, during the struggle, she was able to break away.

Minutes later, officers encountered the suspect outside the victim’s home on North Washington Street. The suspect, who was much larger than either of the responding officers, police said, allegedly laughed and told them, “There are just two of you? You better call for back up.”

According to police, the man was immediately combative and would not listen to officers. He refused to get on the ground despite officers’ repeated requests, and at one point, he even allegedly took a fighting stance with his fists raised.

In the video, it appears the suspect pushed an officer and took a swing at another. The four officers appear to hit and use pepper spray on the suspect. After more than a minute, he finally falls to his knees. Police continue to hit him with batons, something witnesses say was over the top.

And here’s the raw video:

According to Fox 25, “Police acknowledged the video and said all information is being thoroughly reviewed.” So, the police say they are reviewing what happened, yet they have already tried to exonerate the officers in the court of public opinion with their press release which offers nothing but justifications for the officers’ violence. This is precisely why all investigations of excessive force allegations and other misconduct allegations against police should be handled independently from the police department and local DA’s office. There is an inherent conflict of interest when a police officer is investigated by his or her colleagues.

This story should also be a reminder to everyone that you should always record the police when you see them. You never know what might happen. Few people are going to take the word of a domestic violence suspect and his friend over the word of the police, so it’s important for the public to have objective records of police encounters.