BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Officers didn't have the right to enter an apartment and drag out three young people in a violent arrest that was recorded by police body cameras and bystanders, an Alabama police chief said Wednesday.
Tuscaloosa police released more than two hours of body camera recordings from a Nov. 8 encounter officers had with two men and a woman at an apartment building near the University of Alabama. During the arrest, an officer used a stun gun on at least one of the men and another officer used what appeared to be a baton.
"You do anything stupid you're going to get Tased again," an officer said in one of the body camera videos released Wednesday. "I got your fingers, if you move I'm gonna break 'em off."
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson has called the arrest disturbing and said three officers are on paid administrative leave. Video taken by bystanders was previously posted online.
Police were called to the building about a block away from Bryant-Denny Stadium about 3:20 a.m. because of a noise complaint after the University of Alabama's football win over Louisiana State. The building's residents have said fans celebrated into early Sunday morning.
Videos show an officer at the door of one apartment arguing for several minutes with occupants who refused to exit.
After nearly two minutes of discussion and arguing, officers entered the apartment and dragged out the young people.
"Did the student have to come out legally? Based on what I've seen in the video — and this is basically from the officer's perspective and from what the students were doing, the individual did not have to exit the apartment at that time," Anderson said, adding that he didn't believe officers were legally justified in entering the apartment.
"We're investigating that to see if the amount of force used was excessive in any way," Anderson said. "I still think we could have handled that situation much better."
Some of the body camera video was edited for privacy reasons, the chief said.
Police have identified the three people arrested as Brandon James Williford, 21, and Caroline Elizabeth Giddis, 22, both of Collierville, Tennessee, and Matthew Gimlin Macia, 22, of Johns Creek, Georgia.
All three were charged with obstructing governmental operations, Anderson has said. Williford was also charged with harassment and resisting arrest; Macia also is charged with resisting; and Giddis is also charged with harassment, the chief said.
City officials have met with attorneys representing the three who were arrested and reviewed the body camera footage with them, Anderson said. The chief declined to comment on whether a lawsuit has been filed against the department.
The officers were identified as James Kent, Phillip Champion and Gregory Pimm.
Anderson has said the incident prompted him to implement additional training for officers, which has already begun.