The mayor of Lancaster, Pa. has expressed concern over video of a man being tasered by police, despite complying with officers’ commands.
Mayor Danene Sorce said she was upset by the video, adding that a use of force investigation is currently underway.
Footage of the June 28 incident shows suspect Sean Williams take a seat on the curb with his arms stretched in front of him as a male officer, with stun gun already in hand, paces not far behind him and gives him a command to stretch his legs out. Just as Williams begins to stretch his legs straight out in front of him, as commanded, a female officer off-camera repeats the command but adds for him to cross his legs. Less than a second later, the first cop deploys his Taser, hitting the man in the back.
Witness Juan Almestica, who filmed the incident, said he thinks Williams may have been confused by the officers’ instructions.
“He first put (his legs) straight, and then [the officer] was like ‘cross your legs.’ So, he tried to cross his legs and got tased in the back,” Almestica told station WGAL 8.
Video of the incident has since sparked widespread outrage on social media.
According to the station, police were responding to reports of a man with a bat who was going after other people in the neighborhood. A press release by Lancaster police stated that the 911 caller claimed the suspect had gone after a group of three people.
The persons involved told police that the man, later identified as Williams, was known to them and wanted to fight after they came to the defense of a woman being harassed by Williams. The victims did not recall Williams ever having a bat, however, and no bat was found at the scene, according to the news release.
The release went on to say that Willaims refused to comply with police commands to “stick his legs straight out in front of him and cross his ankles,” a way to ensure he wouldn’t try and flee.
“When Williams failed to follow instructions, Off. Bernot deployed the ECD on Williams, the probes striking him on his back,” police said. “The use of the ECD had the desired effect and Williams was placed into custody without further incident or use of force.”
Williams was ultimately arrested on an outstanding warrant that stemmed from previous charges of possession of a controlled substance and public intoxication. He was later released on unsecured $5,000 bail.
This police officer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania should be fired immediately. After he is fired, the District Attorney should immediately press charges for criminal assault.
What he did here is completely illegal.
This man was compliant, calm, unarmed, and non-violent. pic.twitter.com/kJCjzAoBiE
— Shaun King (@shaunking) June 28, 2018