The use of force by a Georgia State trooper, who appeared to stomp on a suspect during an arrest, is now under review, the state’s department of public safety says. Video of the incident quickly went viral, prompting a debate on social media.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) said on October 3, a trooper with the Georgia State Patrol conducted a traffic stop because the driver was not wearing a seat belt.
The driver, identified as Jamarco Lucas, initially stopped, but then fled the traffic stop, initiating a pursuit, DPS said in a statement to CBS News.
The trooper followed Lucas, who exited his vehicle with his right hand inside his waistband and the trooper later saw a handgun fall out of his pants, officials said.
While following on foot, the trooper deployed his Taser twice, hitting Lucas once. When Lucas fell to the ground, he did not display his hands or follow verbal commands from the trooper, DPS says.
The video, originally posted on Twitter by “Atlanta Uncensored,” shows Lucas on the ground. The trooper is seen hitting Lucas with his foot twice, dragging him across a sidewalk and putting his knee on him as he handcuffs him.
DPS said the trooper was unaware if Lucas was still armed and that he maneuvered as if he was attempting to get up again.
“The Trooper applied a foot strike to the center of the driver’s body and then another to the driver’s right-hand area which appeared to still be in the waistband,” the DPS statement reads. “Once the Trooper observed the driver did not have a weapon, he placed the driver into custody.”
The video also shows the trooper tell a woman to back up when when she begins to approach during the arrest. DPS said the trooper observed a handgun laying on the sidewalk between his location and the bystander.
According to DPS policy, “all instances of use of force are documented and reviewed by an employee’s respective chain of command,” the agency said in their statement.
DPS said Lucas is currently on probation for assault and has an active warrant for his arrest in Rockdale County for simple battery.
The 27-year-old has now been charged with fleeing or attempting to elude; obstruction of a law enforcement officer; possession of a firearm with an altered serial number; reckless driving; speeding; improper lane change; failure to obey a traffic control device; driving while unlicensed; and no seatbelt. He has been released to the Fulton County Jail.
The video gained widespread attention online, sparking a debate on the use of force by police. An Atlanta mayoral candidate even posted the clip on Twitter and Instagram. In his caption, Antonio Brown wrote: “This is completely unacceptable, and we must hold our police accountable in the same manner we hold those breaking the law in our city and state accountable.”
Brown, who is currently a city council member, said the “officer must be held accountable, this man is unarmed and as a police officer you should be trained to deescalate without the use of excessive force.”
“Crazy how we can be talking about putting more officers on the streets of Atlanta when our police are A-Town stomping folks out here,” he said. Brown says he still stands behind his comments after the official statement from DPS was released, CBS affiliate WGCL reported.