D.C. police chief responds to video of rough arrest

WASHINGTON — Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the rough arrest of a man captured on video reveals what officers face, and demonstrates the reality of police work.

“One, it shows just the kind of scenarios that police officers are facing every single day and two, that police work is not pretty.  When you see situations where officers have to use force it is not a pleasant video to look at,” Lanier says.

The video shows the man acting erratically and officers struggling to subdue him.  Police punches are thrown and the man appears to get kneed in the head. Police have launched an internal review of the use of force.

“It has already been assigned for investigation and we will follow through on that,” Lanier says.

The chief also cast doubt on assertions by the head of the D.C. Police Union, Delroy Burton, that if police were issued electronic shock weapons, like Tasers,  the incident would have ended without police having to put their hands on the man.

“I don’t want people to think that Tasers are a panacea, there are people who don’t react to those, as well,” Lanier says.

She says the video shows that officers striking the man with expandable steel batons, known as ASPs, seem to have little effect on him.

“It didn’t appear that the officers’ efforts, even with the ASPs, was having any impact at all on this individual,” Lanier says.

Besides their service weapons, officers also are equipped with batons and pepper spray. The chief says plans are in the works to issue Tasers to some officers.

“We’ve done some research and we have made a decision to deploy Tasers to sergeants out in the field, supervisors, so they have some alternatives,” Lanier says.

Lanier refused to speculate whether the bizarre behavior of the man in the video suggests he was under the influence of any hallucinogenic drugs. But the chief says some drugs pose greater risk of harm to police than others.

“Certainly PCP and the synthetics are two of the top,” Lanier says.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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