A Black Lyft passenger was pinned to the ground and beaten by sheriff’s deputies on Friday, Sept. 11, after he questioned why he should be required to show his ID following a traffic stop in the Atlanta suburb of Clayton County, Georgia. The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation into the incident after video footage circulated on social media.
In a Friday Instagram post, user _passionlove95 said her cousin was tackled by the deputies after the Lyft ride they were in was pulled over because the car’s taillight was out. The man in the video, Roderick Walker, his girlfriend Janita Walker, their two children ages five months and five years, and Walker’s cousin, were passengers in the Lyft vehicle at the time.
Reportedly, the deputies asked the driver for his ID, but he did not have one. The deputies then asked the passengers to provide identification. The passengers asked why they had to show their IDs when they hadn’t done anything wrong.
The deputies “told him to get out the car and this what happened,” Walker’s cousin wrote in the post. The incident occurred close to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
At the start of the video, Walker is pinned to the ground under the weight of two deputies while a woman is heard screaming: “He’s bleeding! No! Please, stop!”
“He’s biting my hand,” a deputy says.
“I’m gonna die. I can’t breathe,” Walker says as he’s pinned to the ground.
“No! Don’t Kill Him!” the woman yells. “He said he can’t breathe.”
The man appears to be unconscious as deputies struggle to handcuff him.
A second video of the incident shows the encounter from a wider angle, and was also shared to social media. In the video, a child calling Walker “daddy,” can be seen panicking. A deputy punches Williams repeatedly.
“This man is bleeding and ya’ll won’t even let him f-ckin breathe,” a bystander says. When officers step away briefly, blood is seen streaming down Walker’s face. He was unarmed as well as unresisting at that point.
In the video, the deputies roll Walker onto his stomach and place him in handcuffs. He is pinned against a police car before the footage ends.
Walker’s family and attorneys held a news conference in front of the Clayton County Jail on the evening of Sept. 12, the day after the altercation and arrest. There, family attorney Shean Williams called for the immediate release of Williams, describing the charges against the father of four as bogus. Williams said deputies brutalized Walker after he responded to their ID demand by telling them he didn’t have any ID on him and asking why he should have to show any if he wasn’t driving. Williams also said Walker was tased during the incident.
Walker’s mother, Tywouna Walker looked visibly upset during the press conference. “I just want my son home because he would be real bad. He did nothing wrong,” she said.
Walker is currently being held in the Clayton County Jail on multiple counts of obstruction as well as battery.
“After being made aware of a video posted on social media involving a Deputy using physical force on a man, Sheriff Victor Hill ordered his entire Internal Affairs Unit to come in and begin an investigation that has been on going since 8pm. The Sheriff has ordered that the Deputy involved be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The ride-share service Lyft also said they will be be investigating the incident, writing: “The incident depicted in this video is deeply disturbing. We’ve launched an investigation in an effort to identify and lend support to the rider and driver involved.”