PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Video obtained by 8News shows the moments an off-duty Petersburg Police officer puts his hand on the neck of a civilian outside of a bar, prompting an internal investigation by the department.
According to witnesses, the incident unfolded late Friday evening along Bollingbrook Street in downtown Petersburg. In the video, witnesses can be heard saying; “What you’re doing is illegal. You’re drunk. You’re intoxicated. You’re not in uniform. You cannot put your hands on this man.”
David Gwinn was the man behind the camera. He told 8News that he and a group of friends were at a bar when the off-duty approached his friend, Bryce Bishop, and said he was being detained for an outstanding arrest warrant.
Gwinn says the officer then led Bishop to a bench outside of the bar, where he can be seen in the video with his hand on his neck.
“You’re not a cop right now, you’re a citizen,” said one witness.
“I am a cop,” the off-duty officer responded.
“Show me your badge. Where’s your badge?” questioned other witnesses, accusing the officer of being inebriated and exceeding his off-duty authority.
Minutes into the video, on-duty Petersburg Police officers respond to the scene to de-escalate the situation. Bishop is then put into handcuffs on the ground.
“Right and wrong is right and wrong. I don’t care what you are, especially when you have consumed alcohol,” Gwinn said in an interview with 8News on Tuesday. “By their terms, assault is an unwanted touch. If you watch my video, I don’t think my friend Bryce wanted him grabbing him by his throat.”
Gwinn said he’s met with investigators and now wants to press charges.
“You’re committing assault on a friend of mine — not only assault but abduction, you took him from one place and held him against his will in another and there’s no other way I can put that,” he added.
The Petersburg Bureau of Police sent 8News a statement acknowledging that the officer in question has been placed on administrative leave.
The statement reads: “We are aware of video footage involving Petersburg Police personnel engaged in conduct that does not align with our professional standards. In response to this situation, we promptly acted and initiated a thorough investigation. The individuals involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of our investigation.”
Petersburg Police did not specify how many people were under investigation or their roles in the department. 8News reporter Autumn Childress requested an on-camera interview with the Chief; however, a spokesperson denied citing the investigation is a personnel matter.
As the investigation continues, Gwinn says he wants accountability.
“I hope he’s fired and fully pressed charges against. I don’t want someone like that patrolling the city. I don’t think they should be. People like him give real police officers a bad name,” Gwinn said.
This is a developing story, stay with 8News for updates.