Violent Arrest of Black Man in Missouri Goes Viral
|thenorthstar||May 12, 2019|
The St. Ann Police Department in Missouri is under fire following a viral video of a detective smashing a car window and violently arresting a Black man. St. Ann’s Police Chief Aaron Jimenez defended the unidentified detective, saying the video actually proved the officer acted professionally.
The video shows a man sitting in the front passenger seat with the window rolled up and his hands in the air. Seconds later, the plainclothes detective moved a uniformed officer away and broke the car window with his forearm. The unidentified passenger is seen shielding himself from the breaking glass, and then raised his arms again. The officer is seen saying something to the man, to which he responds, “I can’t.” The detective then violently pulls the man out through the window and drags him to the floor.
As the uniformed officer handcuffed the man, a passerby is heard yelling, “Hey, that’s abuse! Don't worry, we’ve got it on tape.” The incident unfolded on May 7, when St. Peters Police alerted nearby agencies that a vehicle failed to stop in St. Peters, Missouri – a city about 15 miles west of Saint Ann. St. Peters Police spokeswoman Melissa Doss told The North Star that an officer from the department attempted to pull the vehicle over for traffic violations near I-70 and Highway 370.
Police ran a computer check of the license plate and discovered that the vehicle’s owner was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Doss said the officer did not pursue the vehicle but placed the alert to other departments about the runaway vehicle. "Our involvement ended at this point and officers returned to patrol," she told TNS.
St. Ann Police began pursuing the eastbound vehicle when it crossed the Blanchette Memorial Bridge on I-70, Jimenez told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jimenez said the vehicle “came through at a high rate of speed and sideswiped a tractor-trailer.” By leaving the scene of an accident, the vehicle’s driver committed a felony.
The vehicle later crashed into a guardrail, allowing police to arrest those inside. Officers arrested the woman who was driving the car, as well as a man sitting in the back seat. Jimenez said that unlike the back seat passenger, the man sitting up front did not comply with officers’ orders.
Jimenez told TNS that moments before the video began recording, the man put his hands below the seat to hide drug paraphernalia. The video was given to the department’s internal affairs office, which determined the officer was justified in his actions.
In a statement posted on the St. Ann Neighborhood Watch Facebook page, authorities denied the officer abused the suspect. “At no point was the passenger kicked, punched, or mistreated in any way,” the statement said. “At no point was there any abuse on the part of police regardless of what the person driving by, videotaping the incident and screaming that it was ‘abuse.’”
Jimenez reiterated that statement in a phone call with TNS. The police chief said that he was "very proud" of the way the detective, who he declined to identify due to death threats, acted during the arrest.
Lisa Jones Watson, who witnessed the arrest and posted the video on Facebook, disagreed. “I know what we saw and it did not seem justified to me to drag him through broken glass the way they did,” Watson wrote along with the video. “Look at the beginning of [the] video, his hands were up and he was afraid."
Watson said that officers had their guns drawn before she began recording and that the passenger had attempted to “surrender peacefully.” Jimenez placed doubt on Watson's motives for filming the arrest, claiming she and her partner were known to police due to drug use. Nevertheless, Jimenez said he was thankful for Watson's video because it "proved" his detectives acted responsibly. "I’m all good for holding our department accountable," Jimenez told TNS. "[But] I'm not apologizing."
Jimenez told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the video only showed the “restraint” shown by the detectives. He added that the passenger “could easily have been shot by law enforcement prior to that video starting.”
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.