Atlanta officer suspended 20 days after punching video surfaces
ATLANTA - The Atlanta Police officer seen on video delivering punches to a suspect has been suspended 20 days, the Atlanta Police Chief said Friday.
“Uncalled for” is how the chief views the actions of one of her officers involved in a takedown of a drug suspect.
The officer, Quinton Green, will have to serve a 20-day suspension. The encounter was shot by a bystander and put on social media. Thousands have since viewed it.
There were a total of four officers surrounding Ricky Williams when he was taken to the ground. The chief believes there was a way for those trained law enforcement officers to make the arrest without one of them, Green, hurling multiple punches.
Chief Erika Shields said she will order additional training at the academy.
The chief said there is no need to terminate Green over what she called a "mistake". Green does not have a history of excessive force complaints.
The video was posted online by Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta last week and has been drawing attention over what they are calling “police brutality.”
The Atlanta Police Department said the incident happened last Thursday. The video, posted and reposted to several social media accounts, appears to show a black man on the ground surrounded by four black Atlanta Police officers. The video appears to show one of the officers, who is trying to place the man in handcuffs, strike the man twice, once on either side of the face, during the arrest.
“Black men aren't safe in Atlanta. This is what I call a #BlueOnBlackCrime, as an organization, we stand against police brutality regardless the color of the officer,” began a statement attributed to Sir Maejor Page, president of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta accompanying a video of the incident on their Facebook page. “We now hereby DEMAND an internal investigation and will aggressively seek the immediate TERMINATION and expect CRIMINAL CHARGES to be filed against the officer in question.”
In the post, Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta offers that the unnamed man in the video was “not offering any resistance.”
“The officer involved in the use of force depicted in the video has been relieved of duty and is currently on administrative leave. Following the conclusion of the internal investigation, Chief Erika Shields will review the evidence therein to determine the appropriate disciplinary action, if any,” read a statement sent to FOX 5 News from the Atlanta Police Department.
The APD said their Office of Professional Standards is currently investigating the incident and taking the video into consideration.
“Chief Shields has always held professionalism and honesty in high regard and will continue to hold her officers to the highest standard,” the statement from APD continued.
Page took his concerns to the Atlanta City Council's Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
"This is unacceptable here in the City of Atlanta. Atlanta's supposed to be the beacon for social justice. Atlanta's supposed to be the beacon [...] for civil rights and if Atlanta cannot get it right, you cannot expect any other city to get it right," Page told council members.
A law enforcement veteran, who is not associated with the Atlanta Police Department, said while the scene shown on social media is ugly that does not mean any laws were broken.
There are only a few seconds of the video. It shows three officers directly engaged with the man who while on the ground appears not to relax his arms so his wrists can be handcuffed. There is one officer who uses a pin-down technique, using a knee.
Charles Rambo, a one-time supervisor in the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, said the tactic is taught in the academy, but that same officer delivers several punches to the man's upper body and head. Rambo said there are cases in which punches can be used, but he cautions the video does not show all that was going on.
The law enforcement instructor suggests the best tactic to quickly end a takedown under similar circumstances would be to apply a stun gun in a spot that likely would loosen the suspect's arms.
Police identify the man as Ricky Williams. He was charged with obstruction.