Kenosha police squads. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)
An arrest made by police officers in late July is now the subject of a Kenosha Police Department internal investigation in response to video of the incident that circulated showing officers holding and striking the man on the ground after taking a crying infant from his arms.
Officers were pursuing a man believed to be involved in a hit-and-run crash when they entered a local Applebee’s restaurant on July 20. Video posted to social media – which had been viewed over 23,00 times as of Thursday afternoon — shows officers holding a Black man on the ground before striking him repeatedly as he lay on his stomach. Moments before being forced onto his stomach the man was holding a crying baby. Police took the child from him. The video, which was posted on Facebook Aug. 4, was captured by employees of the restaurant.
Police said they were looking for people involved in a hit-and-run crash on Highway 50 and Highway 31 in Kenosha. According to the police account, witnesses to the crash described two Black males and one Black female who were reportedly involved in the crash running towards the Applebee’s located just west of the crash site.
When officers arrived, police said, an employee allegedly directed the officers to people the employee felt were suspicious. One of those people was the man whose arrest was shown on video.
Police said the man was detained as the crash was being investigated. Video of the incident, however, begins with the man already sitting on the ground with officers around him, as he held the baby.
The video shows officers ordering employees who were recording to “get out of here, go over there now!” In the video, officers accuse the employee recording the interaction of “obstructing my investigation.”
Police said they determined that the man was not involved in the hit-and-run crash, and that the person they were looking for was hiding in the Applebees’ bathroom. Nevertheless, police recommended charging the man they initially detained with disorderly conduct, resisting, and obstructing an officer. They recommended the same charges for a woman who was accompanying him, along with a charge of possession of cannabis.
Activists in Kenosha have called for transparency and an outside investigation into the incident, the second high-profile incident involving police conduct in the community in less than 30 days. Earlier this month, the family of a man who died while in the custody of Pleasant Prairie police officers at the Kenosha County jail rallied for answers as well. Officers say the man — who was arrested for weapons charges — shot himself while in the back of a squad car that was en route to the jail. That incident is being investigated by the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
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