Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police released body camera footage of the arrest of 23-year-old Kiman Johnson Wednesday evening, after a 45-second video shot by a bystander – showing Johnson pinned against a fence by three officers as one of them punches him at least 13 times in the face and body, went viral.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said the viral footage left him feeling embarrassed, disheartened and ashamed. He said the arrest started when officers claimed to have witnessed a drug deal and felt a gun during a pat-down.
“We have a responsibility on the way we treat the community and we didn’t do that,” Contee said. “This is not how we train our members to get illegal firearms off the streets.”
The video starts with a cop approaching Johnson on the 1500 block of U Street, S.E., along with two other officers. One of them appears to say, “You are about to get dropped,” and another is recorded saying, “You’re about to get OC sprayed.” Another officer appears to say, “Stop it” and then begins swinging.
The video shows the unidentified officer punching Johnson while yelling, “Give up.” Bystanders are yelling at the officers, asking why Johnson is being punched. As the punches continue, the bystanders begin throwing nearby objects at the officers.
Johnson’s lawyers said he sustained multiple facial fractures and will likely have to undergo surgery. His attorney Harry Daniels said the video of the alleged drug deal only proved how unlawful the officers’ actions were.
“In the video, you can’t tell what he gave to him, as you know in the District you can give up to an ounce of marijuana,” Daniels said. “There’s no drugs found. I believe a stop was not justified, it’s unconstitutional.”
“Whether you did it, didn’t do it, suspect, alleged, reasonable suspicion or probable cause, the reality is police officers are trained in a particular matter to handle escalated situations and that did not happen appropriately under these circumstances,” attorney Dionna Maria Lewis added.
Johnson was originally 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 U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the charges against Johnson. Attorneys stressed that alone meant their client was not in the wrong.
The Metropolitan Police bodycam videos can be viewed in full here.
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