Officers placed on leave as victim speaks out
April 29, 2014
Six police officers in Buffalo have been placed on administrative leave as a video surfaced of them kicking, kneeing, and slapping a handcuffed man in the head following a traffic incident.
The following video of John Willet being beaten by cops was uploaded to YouTube and has sparked outrage in the community.
It shows officers beating a clearly detained and handcuffed Willet as he begs for them to stop and apologizes for the traffic violation. The footage strangely cuts off just as the beating starts to become more severe.
Willet was reportedly followed by an unmarked police vehicle on April 19th, causing him to believe that he was being tracked by someone wanting to rob him or do him harm. In an effort to get away he sped up. Within minutes, Willet stopped, got out of his car and initially ran from the cops, admitting that he had a small quantity of drugs on him, but quickly decided it better to surrender to the officers with his hands in the air.
He told reporters with WGRZ that the cops approached him, punched him and threw him down to the ground, which is where the video footage begins.
“When it first starts, you can see the knee dropping on my head and my head jerking back.” Willet said, adding that he is taking legal action and going public to stand up against police abuse of power.
“I just want everybody to know what’s going on out here. I want the city, I want the Mayor, I want everybody to know exactly what’s going on.” Willet said.
Willet was charged with resisting arrest and also faces minor drug possession charges.
The Buffalo Police Department, and Mayor Byron Brown have been made aware of the video. Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda has ordered an internal investigation, both have commented that misconduct or abuse involving police officers will not be tolerated.
While declining to comment at length, Derenda said “It is going to take a little bit of time … investigators have been making progress since Friday.”
“99.9% of our officers do the right thing,” Derenda added. “Bad actions by a few should not tarnish their (officers) badges.” The officers involved have not been named, leading some critics to suggest that a damage control operation is underway.
Derenda has, however, brought in investigators from the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys’ office, and the District Attorney’s office, according to reporters with WIVB.
The Commissioner also said that if this was a case of excessive force by one or more officers, the other officers at the scene would be required to put a stop to it and report the incident to their supervisors. Derenda was also asked how he felt about citizens using phones to record the actions of police officers, replying “Cameras are a good thing. People should be aware that cameras are out there, and inappropriate actions, whether on video or not, can’t be condoned, will not be tolerated, plain and simple.”
Stating that the officers, if found to have abused their positions, will be punished with “Whatever penalty is allowable,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he found the video “very disturbing”.
“We will conduct a complete and swift investigation. We will not and do not tolerate any instances of police misconduct in my administration, or in the city of Buffalo,” Brown said.
Locals have taken to social media in an effort to rally support for Willet and organise protests.
Willet has made further comments to WIVB, saying “For them to put their hands on me the way they did just didn’t make sense.”