Charlottesville police were seen on video peacefully arresting a white suspect Friday night at the Downtown Mall who held an African-American man at knifepoint and threatened bystanders.
Officers arrested the unidentified man, who appeared to be mentally ill, for attempted malicious wounding, WVIR-TV reported.
A cellphone video from an eyewitness of the incident circulated on social media and went viral. It begins with the Black man on his hands and knees and the white suspect standing over him apparently holding a knife.
The suspect rambles on incoherently about people getting killed. At one point, he threatens a person who was recording the incident, as well as other bystanders.
When the police arrived, they calmly called the suspect “sir” and asked him to step aside before placing him in handcuffs.
The victim reportedly suffered a cut to his hand, but the violent assault could have ended much worse him.
This arrest is in stark contrast to how the police have treated mentally ill Black suspects who were armed with a knife.
In one high-profile case, San Francisco police officers gunned down Mario Woods in 2015. The 26-year-old mentally ill man was suspected of stabbing someone when officers surrounded him. When Woods failed to drop the knife as ordered by the cops, they fired 26 rounds at him, even though cellphone videos showed that Woods was not directly threatening the officers as the cops claimed.
In another case, Sacramento police officers fired at 51-year-old Joseph Mann 18 times in 2016 after receiving reports of a man with a knife acting erratically. Police videos show Mann walking down the street making strange gestures when the cops at first tried to run him down with their police cruiser before shooting him.
Indeed, there’s a long list of mentally ill African-American men killed in police encounters. The list includes Alfred Olango, who pointed a vaping device at officers when cops shot and killed him in 2016. And in April 2018, four officers — one in uniform, three in plainclothes — killed Saheed Vassell, 34, in a hail of 10 bullets on a Brooklyn sidewalk. The officers responded to calls about a Black man with a gun. But it turned out that Vassell, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was holding a pipe. No firearm was found at the scene.
The white Charlottesville suspect not only survived his encounter with the police, but he was reportedly admitted to a psychiatric hospital.