ALLENTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — No charges will be filed against the Allentown police officers involved in a viral incident outside of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Hospital last weekend, Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin said Friday. The video showed an officer appearing to kneel on the neck of 37-year-old Edward Borrero, who police were trying to subdue during an arrest around 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.
“Initially, I assigned two county detectives to investigate it,” Martin said.
Martin says those investigators looked at the cellphone video and also reviewed a surveillance video of the full nine-plus minute incident as well as interviewing witnesses on the scene and watching body camera video of the arresting officers.
Martin said after a thorough review, the restraint was reasonable and that the officer placed his knee on Borrero’s head and not his neck, as it appeared in the video released on social media.
“The entirety of the incident shows Mr. Borrero, as he admitted, was under the influence of both heroin and cocaine,” Martin said. “He was agitated. He was disoriented. He was staggering. Had he been compliant, there would not have been any necessity to take him to the ground or put the knee on the person’s head. It was never on his neck, and that lasted approximately eight seconds.
While Martin said it’s not his call, he sees no evidence suggesting that the officers should be disciplined.
Authorities say police officers observed Borrero vomiting and staggering along the street before making his way outside of the hospital’s emergency room. When officers approach, a struggle ensued and Borrero was taken to the ground.
In a video posted on social media, the officer’s knee is seen on the man’s head area for approximately eight seconds. Borrero was then escorted into the hospital wearing a breathable mask intended to stop a person from spitting at officers or others.
Martin says Borrero was under the influence of heroin and cocaine at the time of the incident.
The viral video led to Black Lives Matter protests in Allentown and garnered national attention.
“We are not really happy about that,” Justan Parker, the founder of Black Lives Matter Lehigh Valley, said.
In a video posted to the group’s Facebook page, Parker said: “This case needs to be reopened and reviewed externally. This is Allentown PA sweeping this under the rug and trying to keep the United States or nationwide attention outside of your backyard and this needs to be opened up and reviewed because this is just gross negligence that happened in this case.”
Parker and about a dozen others gathered at the Lehigh County courthouse steps on Friday afternoon demanding a closer look at the case.
“They’re getting away with putting a knee on the head and saying it wasn’t on the neck to get away with this,” Parker said. “We want an external investigation reopened not under the DA Jim Martin, but under the AG, as he should recuse himself from this. We’re also demanding that the names of the officers are released and they’re suspended pending an external investigation.”
Martin said, “It is inappropriate to release their names if they’re not criminally charged.”
“Our internal review by the Office of Professional Standards, as well as our Use of Force review process has determined, along with the District Attorney’s independent findings, that there is no basis for any discipline of the officers involved,” Allentown Police Chief Glenn Granitz, Jr. said.
Borrero was treated and released from the hospital. He was given a summons for public drunkenness and possession of drug paraphernalia.
CBS3’s Natasha Brown and Greg Argos contributed to this report.