A family is seeking justice for their loved one featured in a newly released police body camera video that showed Norfolk, Virginia, police tackling a Black bicyclist, Derrick Rountree, for riding around without a headlight nearly three years ago on Christmas Eve.
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper obtained the nearly 30-minute police body camera video, which they noted was submitted as an exhibit to the case a few weeks ago by attorney Christina Connell on behalf of Rountree’s family.
In a 1:38 minute clip posted to YouTube, Norfolk cop Aaron Nkrumah Christie’s body camera shows him running at full speed toward Rountree, tackling him to the ground. The man is heard asking the cop, “Why you do that?” The audio was muffled, but Rountree asks, “Why you do that to me, bro? I ain’t do nothing.”
Christie responds, “You have no light [on your bicycle]. We tried to stop you. You tried to run.” Seemingly shocked, Rountree fired back, “Is you serious, man? I didn’t know you had to have a light for a bike.”
Rountree suffered a broken right tibia and fibula due to the tussle. The document stated that he was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for treatment, where he was hospitalized for several days.
According to the outlet, Rountree reportedly rode past a police cruiser on December 24, 2018, at about 9 p.m. The officer briefly sounded the vehicle’s siren, flashed its lights, and said something over a megaphone.
However, the 43-year-old, thinking it was for something unrelated to him, kept riding. Soon afterward, he turned around to head back to a friend’s place at the Tidewater Gardens public housing complex where he was staying. That was when Christie sprang into action.
Rountree would be charged with a headlight infraction and obstruction of justice, but the obstruction charge was later dismissed. He reportedly was fined $15 for not having a headlight.
A lawsuit was filed in December 2020 in the U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Christina claimed her client’s civil rights were violated when officers used excessive force when they stopped him from riding his bike a night because he didn’t have a headlight, which is against the law in Virginia.
Christie said the location where Rountree was located — which is noted for its high crime — prompted him to stop the man. When he refused to comply with officers, Christie believed Rountree might be involved in illegal activities.
Rountree was killed in a daytime shooting near a Shop ‘N Go market on East Virginia Beach Boulevard this summer. An innocent bystander in the shooting, he was a father of three.
Christie was cleared of any wrongdoing and is still on the force. It’s unclear if the investigation into the incident has been completed. The civil case is scheduled to go to trial on March 29.
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