The American police force is again at the centre of a controversy due to a Facebook video, in which some of its officers are seen kicking, punching and trying to overpower a man in a store in Alabama. The video, recorded on Monday, shows a police officer trying to overturn the man and handcuff him as he scremas for help. A few seconds later, another police officer is seen approaching the scene and kicking and stomping on the man’s leg while shouting “stop resisting” repeatedly.
A few other officers joined the two officers and the man was eventually subdued, the 90-second video showed. It was broadcast as Facebook Live by Bruce Turner, who lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and has been viewed more than 13,000 times. The man who was lying on the floor of the store has been idenfied as 22-year-old Kemontae Kentarieus Hobbs by news agency AP and other local media outlets.
“We are aware of the video and investigating at this time,” Captain Michael Johnson of the Huntsville Police Department said in reply to queries regarding the incident, local media company al.com reported on Monday.
After the incident, Hobbs was booked into the Madison County Jail on charges of resisting arrest and obstructing government operations, AP reported earlier in the day. The report also said that he was released later on Monday afternoon (local time).
Kimberlyn Heyes, mother of Hobbs, condemned the use of such force by the officers in the video. “It didn’t take all those officers when he was already down. How was he resisting when he was already on the ground and you are stomping on him like a dog? That’s not how you handle things,” AP quoted Heyes as saying.
Meanwhile, a group named Huntsville Bail Fund also confirmed the release of Hobbs in a Facebook post, in which it had earlier sought donations to secure his release. “Kemontae Hobbs was brutalized by Huntsville Police last night. Police were called because Kemontae was panhandling outside a gas station, leading to the viral video of an officer attempting to break his leg. Kemontae has had several run-ins with the cops. They are aware that he has schizophrenia, and is sometimes known to wander when he isn’t able to access treatment. After his arrest and brutalization, Huntsville Police called to tell his mother that they had her son, and knew he was mentally ill. They treated him like this anyway,” the group’s Facebook post said.
The incident comes a month after William Darby, a 28-year-old officer of the Huntsville Police Department, was convicted of murder in a 2018 shooting incident, according to a report by the Washington Post. Darby was found guilty of shooting a man who had sought help from 911 for his suicidal thoughts and had a gun to his own head, according to the report.