People in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, are gearing up for a protest after video footage of a Walmart customer getting Tasered and arrested went viral.
One clip shows the man, who was identified as Stanley G. Gracius, being arrested in Walmart on Monday. As he’s arrested, two white officers try to restrain him and one of them appears to Taser him. Gracius repeatedly asks why he’s being arrested, asserting that he paid for his stuff and he has a receipt. He also had a bike nearby, which was purportedly the item he paid for.
According to a statement from the Berks County District Attorney, “the Wyomissing Police were dispatched to Walmart for an individual who was riding a bicycle through the store, playing loud music and yelling profanities at other shoppers. This individual was asked to leave the store by the store manager but refused to do so. When the Wyomissing Police arrived at the store, the store manager reported to the Wyomissing Police that the male was in the store and was paying for a bicycle.”
The police statement said that an employee told cops that Gracius was “hitting some shopping carts and almost hitting other shoppers. Again, she told the male to leave but he refused saying ‘You’re not going to tell me what to do.'”
The cops went on to say that once they arrived, Gracius refused their request for him to leave and thus an independent review “determined that the Wyomissing Police acted appropriately while arresting Stanley Gaston Gracius.” The police statement ended by saying that Gracius was charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, disarming a law enforcement officer, defiant trespass, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. They also said Gracius had a past record when he pleaded guilty to disarming law enforcement and criminal trespass in 2014.
According to Reading Eagle, District Attorney John T. Adams said that the cops did use a taser on Gracius, however, it was ineffective. Wyomissing Patrolman Barry W. Moyer also said on the arrest affidavit that Gracius grabbed the taser in Moyer’s hand and tried to snatch it from the officer while they were trying to restrain him. Outside the store, Officer Joseph Klatt arrived and tried to assist with putting Gracius into the vehicle, according to police.
In another video, which runs around 10 minutes, Gracius interacts with the cops outside the store with the third officer joining the original two. Gracius continues to question the cops on why they detained him, saying that he was simply buying a bike for his son.
“I did not do anything wrong,” he continually says, before talking to one of the officers named “Joe.”
“Picture this Joe,” Gracius says. “You have a son who’s expecting a bike. So you go to Walmart to buy him the bike. You have cash and a credit card Joe. You buy the bike Joe. Everyone sees you Joe buy the bike with cash and credit card Joe. So why is the police arresting me Joe?”
At one point during their back and forth, Gracius accuses the officers of “kidnapping” him. The cops eventually proceeded to force Gracius in a police vehicle as he yells, “Please stop, you’re hurting me.” As this happens, bystanders start to yell at the cops, calling them “racist.”
By the end of the video, one of the officers appears to use a leather belt to tie Gracius legs up. “They’re fastening my legs,” Gracius can be heard yelling before the cops eventually close the door on him while he’s inside the vehicle.
Many people on social media commented on the videos, saying the officers used excessive force on Gracius.
One Twitter user who posted the video showing the Tasering defended Gracius, writing, “the kind man was test riding a bike through the store while playing some music and telling random strangers he hopes they have a great day and complimenting them. He was absolutely no bother to anyone. at the register when the man was paying for the bike, the officer grabbed his hand and twisted it as he tried to forcefully arrest him. i couldn’t tell you the reason.”
The user added, “There was no use for the tazing as he was calmly trying to reason with the officers.” The user ended by writing, “there were FOUR OR FIVE cop cars outside. for what? but they did this for what? the last officer to leave overheard my conversation with another bystander about how ridiculous this is and he scoffed and said, ‘you have no idea’ and then drove away.”
A protest is planned for Wednesday over the videos, according to Reading Eagle, with the intention to “demand answers, justice and change.”