DC police release body cam footage of arrest where officer can be seen punching man

D.C. police released body camera footage taken during an arrest in which one of the officers was captured on a viral video repeatedly punching a man as other officers tried to handcuff him.

The viral video was captured earlier this month on Aug. 8 near the Ketcham Recreation Center on U Street Southeast. The footage police released Wednesday shows the points of view of from multiple police officers who responded to the scene and interacted with several people.

D.C. police Chief Robert Contee said after the viral video came out that officers were in a car and witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction.

In one of the videos, police can be seen pulling over and approaching two people. Officers and the two people then started running. The next scene shows a person wearing a white tank top being restrained by at least three officers.

According to police, a firearm was recovered from the man being arrested.

The video from one responding officer’s body camera shows an officer taking something from inside of the man’s pants. The next frame shows the officer pulling out a gun.

Contee said earlier that the way the gun was recovered was “not consistent with our training; it’s not consistent with our tactics; it’s not consistent with our policies, with our procedures; it’s certainly not consistent with the values of this agency or my own personal values.”

In another shot from one of the police body cameras, the man being restrained can be seen covering his head, while police can be heard saying, “Stop” and “Give up” several times, while he struggled with police.

In the viral video, a bystander can be heard asking, “Why are you punching him?”

In a redacted video of the incident by body camera footage, an officer can be heard saying that a man punched him and the officer had to use force on him. The officer then repeats to another officer that he used force, saying “He punched. He has a gun on him, so I struck him.”

He then tells an officer wearing a white shirt that the man “threw blows, was resisting,” and that he has a “use of force strikes.” It is unclear when the officer was punched by the alleged suspect.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. has declined to pursue charges against the man who was seen on the video being struck by the officer. He has been identified as Kiman Johnson, 23; his lawyers are calling for the officers involved to be fired and prosecuted.

Johnson had been charged with assault on a police officer while armed, carrying a pistol without a license, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and resisting arrest.

The D.C. Police Union spoke out over the U.S. Attorney’s decision, saying “The prosecutors have absolutely no intention of holding anyone accountable. In this revolving door criminal justice system, violence will continue to escalate.”

The incident drew criticism from the police chief, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, members of the D.C. Council and the community.

“We saw one of our police officers, sworn with a gun and a badge, appear to use excessive force and punching somebody,” Bowser said after Contee spoke about incident, adding that D.C. police officers “aren’t trained to do that in order to take a gun.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is reviewing what happened and when the review is complete, D.C. polices Internal Affairs Bureau will investigate.

See the body camera footage below. (Editor’s note: The videos may contain graphic language and content.)

You can see a redacted video here from D.C. police.

WTOP’s Will Vitka, Valerie Bonk and Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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