ALLENTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Not even seven weeks since George Floyd’s death led to national outrage, Allentown police responded Sunday night after a disturbing video appears to show similar restraint tactics being used to hold a man down. The video was recorded shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday outside of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Hospital on the 400 block of West Chew Street.
The video led to Black Lives Matter protests in Allentown on Saturday night and appears to show the officer kneeling on the man’s neck.
“We’re done,” Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley leader Justan Parker said. “People think that it couldn’t happen here and it has been happening and it happened yesterday. So enough is enough.”
The video is only 24 seconds long, but Parker says it’s reminiscent of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. In it, you see Allentown police holding the man down with his face in the pavement, and then one of the officers places their knee on the man’s neck.
“My takeaway from the video is that Black and Brown lives don’t matter to APD or to the city,” Parker said.
Allentown police said Sunday night that officers observed the man vomiting and staggering along the street before making his way onto the emergency room’s driveway. According to police, when officers and hospital staff confronted the man, he allegedly screamed and spat in their direction.
That’s when, according to police, officers attempted to restrain the man and they fell to the ground. Police say the man allegedly continued to be non-compliant, which led to officers continuing to restrain him while hospital staff applied a spit shield.
— Joshua Crompton (@PhillyNewsGuy) July 13, 2020
The man was treated at the hospital and later released, police say. The man’s name has not been released.
Earlier this month, the police department released its use of force policy.
It specifically bans chokeholds and neck restraints, like the one seen in the video.
The policy is available on the department’s website. It was released at the request of the city council. It says, in part, that only necessary and reasonable force can be used to control a situation or overcome resistance to arrest. It also says officers can determine the degree of force necessary based on the amount of resistance used by the suspect.
“It’s really concerning and it’s scary in fact because now that the policy was made public there’s still not a buy-in,” Parker said. “So what are we doing here? What was the point in releasing it if we’re not going to adhere to it?”
The video prompted a protest in Allentown organized by Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley on Saturday night. Both Allentown’s Mayor Ray O’Connell and Police Chief Glenn Grannitz showed up at that protests to ease tensions. As far as we know, it ended without incident.
Police say the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident, which includes the 24-second video posted to social media. An internal investigation into the use of force is also underway by the Allentown Police Department.
Bodycam footage has also not been released yet.
Ben Crump, the attorney representing Floyd’s family, wrote on Twitter, “@AllentownPolice held down this man’s face to the pavement and then one of its officers placed their knee on his neck!! This happened yesterday and is exactly what led to #GeorgeFloyd’s death. We need this officer’s name and badge # NOW. #ICantBreathe”
GRAPHIC VIDEO: @AllentownPolice held down this man’s face to the pavement and then one of its officers placed their knee on his neck!! This happened yesterday and is exactly what led to #GeorgeFloyd’s death. We need this officer’s name and badge # NOW. #ICantBreathe pic.twitter.com/3qSlKGSgF4
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 12, 2020
Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley is planning more protests later this week.