ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Video showing a Pennsylvania police officer with his knee on a man’s neck while trying to restrain him has prompted protests and demands to suspend the officers involved.
The video shot Saturday night from a passerby’s vehicle shows Allentown officers restraining a man on the ground outside of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Hospital.
Police say officers found the man vomiting and staggering toward the hospital’s emergency room. When they approached, he allegedly spat on them. Officers restrained the man while hospital staff used a spit shield, police say.
An officer appears to hold his knee to the man’s neck.
Justan Parker, the leader of Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley, says the 24-second-long video is reminiscent of that of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, when an officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes: “We’re done. People think that it couldn’t happen here and it has been happening. And it has happened again yesterday. So enough is enough.”
The arrest prompted a protest in Allentown on Saturday night.
Both Allentown’s Mayor Ray O’Connell and Police Chief Glenn Grannitz showed up to ease tensions.
Earlier this month, the police department released its use-of-force policy, which specifically bans chokeholds as well as neck restraints.
The policy is available on the department’s website and was released at the request of the city council.
It says, in part, that only necessary and reasonable force can be used to control a situation or overcome resistance to arrest.
It also says officers can determine the degree of force necessary based on the amount of resistance used by the suspect.
It’s not clear what happened before the camera started rolling.
“It’s really concerning, and it’s scary, in fact, because now that the policy was made public, there’s still not a buy-in to it, so it’s like what are we doing here? What was the point in releasing it if we’re not going to adhere to it?” said Parker.
Police say the man was treated at the hospital and then released.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.