A police officer in Washington, D.C., had some questions to answer after a video showed him using a Taser on an unarmed Black man who didn’t appear to pose any threat. The unidentified officer was reportedly questioning a young Black male who had been handcuffed in the U St. Metro Station in Northwest Washington when a bystander began speaking to one of the two officers on camera. Moments later, another officer comes rushing into the picture, shoves the bystander and then uses a Taser on him seconds later.
The unfortunate episode of apparent police brutality by an overzealous cop happened Saturday, according to the Washington Post, which reported that a public transit spokesperson said the officer needed to defend himself despite video evidence to the contrary.
“According to the officer’s statement, the subject took an aggressive stance with a balled fist and began to approach the officer appearing to be readying for a fight,” Metro spokesman Ron Holzer told the Post in an email.
The video, of course, didn’t show that happening at all.
The woman who filmed the video could be heard saying she wanted to make sure the young person who was handcuffed was okay. She was reportedly talking to some of the suspect’s friends, who were suspected of “threatening riders on the platform with sticks.”
But Che’mere Jones’ attention quickly moved from the young person to the bystander.
“I was scared, I was ashamed and I was frustrated,” Jones told local news outlet WTOP. “There were seven officers around him and more coming down the escalator.”
She said the narrative that the cop feared for his life was false and that the officer involved was part of a larger problem within the city’s police department.
“This isn’t just an officer making a mistake,” Jones said. “It’s not a mistake — it’s a culture.”
The transit police said Sunday that it was opening up an investigation, although the video along with eyewitness accounts seemed to tell the full story of an overzealous police officer who resented being approached by a citizen over the way he was handling an unarmed Black suspect. That apparent resentment turned the bystander into a suspect who was not only Tasered but also arrested. The unidentified man was arrested for obstruction of justice, though it was unclear what that “justice” was referring to.
Witnesses seemed to back up Jones’ account.
A separate video taken in a D.C. Metro station last week showed a heavy police presence also responding to Black youths over a purported “terror” threat.
This weekend’s video came on the heels of another high-profile incident on the D.C. subway where a passenger took a photo of a Metro employee eating on board in a failed attempt to shame her.
Another Metro cop was caught on video last year using violent force against at least one Black woman while wielding his Taser for alleged fare evasion.