Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace was expected to hold a news conference on Monday to discuss next steps in a police tasing of an unarmed Black man in the Pennsylvania city. An official investigation started on Thursday, Sorace announced previously. However, protesters don’t trust an internal review.
About 200 people rallied Friday night at the Lancaster County Courthouse to protest what appeared in a video of the incident to be blatant police excessive use of force, Lancasteronline.com reported.
“Self-investigations are never going to yield a genuinely objective result,” community advocate Kevin Ressler who spoke at the rally told the news outlet.
A bystander recorded a cell phone video, which received more than 2.6 million views by Sunday, of the encounter on Thursday between Officer Philip Bernot and Sean D. Williams. It shows Williams, 27, sitting on the curb while Bernot orders him to straighten his legs. He puts his legs out, then pulls them back in before the offer deploys his Taser. The police had responded to a call about a disturbance involving Williams, who was arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Williams attended the rally and explained that he couldn’t follow the officers instructions because he was speaking too fast. “If that was a gun, my son would have been dead,” his mother, Dana York, stated.
Watching the video made Sorace upset and created “great concern,” she said Thursday in a Facebook video.
Several speakers at the rally called for the officer’s suspension. They’re also urging city officials to create a civilian review board and to hold a community meeting with the police.
“As an elected official, here’s my promise. We are going to get this right — and you are going to make sure of it,” City Councilman Ismail Smith-Wade-El vowed to the crowd.