RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Police has released a statement and bodycam footage following an incident involving an officer using force after a suspect allegedly tried to grab his gun during a traffic stop in Richmond.
Shortly before 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, VCU Police had established a speed trap in the 300 block of West Main Street. An officer attempted to stop a vehicle that was observed driving at 50 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to police.
Police said the driver of the speeding vehicle did not stop for the officer until they entered the 400 block of North Belvidere Street. As the officer approached the car, the driver of the vehicle — now identified as 31-year-old Paul Willis IV of Richmond — exited his vehicle and failed to follow the officer’s instructions.
In bodycam footage shared by VCU Police, the officer can be heard repeatedly telling Willis to “have a seat.” When Willis fails to comply, the officer takes hold of Willis’ arm. Willis can be heard saying, “Why are you grabbing me?”
After a few more seconds of repeated miscommunication between the two, the officer can be seen grabbing Willis with both hands and trying to force him back into his car. Willis can then be heard saying, “Okay, okay, I’ll sit in the car.” The officer releases his grip on Willis’ arms. Willis can then be seen making a sudden lunge toward the officer and reaching for something off-camera.
According to VCU Police, Willis was reaching for the officer’s firearm. In response, the officer can be heard saying “He’s trying to grab my gun, he’s trying to grab my gun.” The officer then hits Willis about five times, causing Willis to try and cover his head with his arms. The officer can then be seen tackling Willis to the ground and subduing him.
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Both Willis and the officer were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries, according to police. Willis was charged with obstruction of justice and a felony count of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer. Willis is being held on bond with additional charges pending, according to police.
VCU Police said that the bodycam footage was released as a result of cell phone video of the incident being shared on social media. Willis is reportedly unaffiliated with VCU.
The incident remains under investigation and is pending adjudication in the Richmond City court system. There are no further details available at this time.