FORT WORTH, Texas – Police in Fort Worth, Texas, have released body camera footage and 911 audio following backlash sparked by a bystander video that shows a black man being punched and kneed by officers during an arrest.
The police footage made available Tuesday provides a fuller view of the nearly five-minute struggle to subdue the man.
In both the bystander video and the police footage of Saturday's incident, Fort Worth police officers can be seen holding Forrest Curry, 35, face-down in the street as he repeatedly asks why he's being detained. At one point, a white officer kneels on Curry's back and punches him while a black officer knees him in the abdomen.
Even after Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said on Monday that the department would review the officers' response, Dallas-area activist group the Next Generation Action Network led a march Tuesday to a City Council meeting where members denounced the treatment of Curry — the latest in a string of Fort Worth police use-of-force cases that have drawn criticism. The group had posted the 50-second bystander video of the arrest Sunday on Facebook.
Assistant Police Chief Charles Ramirez said in a videotaped statement Tuesday that he hoped releasing two of the arresting officers' body camera videos and the 911 calls would "instill a sense of confidence" in the department's administrative review process. The arresting officers have not been identified, pending the internal review.
The video "provides insight into the erratic behavior and active resistance" by Curry, Ramirez said.
Ramirez told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the officer who punched Curry was doing as he was trained, delivering four "distraction strikes" to Curry's side and shoulder as well as two knee strikes. One punch, though, appears to touch the back of Curry's head. That technique is used only after a suspect fails to follow verbal orders and continues to resist officers, Ramirez said.
In the body camera videos, officers can be heard shouting at Curry to put his hands behind his back. The blows begin after Curry doesn't comply.
"Don't hit me no more!" Curry says.
"Why you keep resisting, man? That's why I keep having to hit you," one officer responds.
There also was apparent confusion over whether Curry was under arrest. One officer told him he was not. But seconds later, another officer said "he is under arrest now."
The incident occurred after police were dispatched to meet an ambulance crew on a public-intoxication call at an apartment complex on the city's east side. One 911 caller reported seeing several men passed out near the complex. "They're going to be dead soon," she said.
Emergency medical personnel told police that Curry was on K2, synthetic marijuana, and was "swinging at them" as they attempted to help him. Police said Curry ran from them. While detained, Curry asked what the charges against him were, and an officer said "you hit Medstar, man," referring to the local ambulance personnel.
Curry denied hitting anyone. After he had been strapped to a stretcher, one of the emergency medical responders can be heard on the body camera video telling an officer that Curry "didn't actually land" a punch.
It was not immediately clear whether Curry was on K2 or another substance. His medical evaluation and toxicology report have not been released.
Curry's attorneys say that he was walking from his mother's home on Saturday when he had a seizure and collapsed, and was disoriented and frightened when he regained consciousness. Curry was booked in Tarrant County jail Saturday for resisting officers and evading arrest. He was released on bond Monday.
Curry's attorney, Jasmine Crockett, told The Associated Press that Curry's head was left swollen by the punches. She said he underwent brain scans Tuesday to determine whether he has a concussion, but that the results will not be available until later in the week.
Crockett called the allegations that Curry was intoxicated a "distraction."
"Anything that happened prior to the incident didn't give them license to beat on a person who was in need of medical attention," she said.
The incident Saturday is the latest in a series of confrontations that have raised questions about the Fort Worth Police Department's use-of-force policies.
Two lawsuits related to use of force by city police officers were filed last December.
Also that month, a Fort Worth police sergeant was fired for ordering a rookie officer to use a stun gun on a woman who had called for help during a domestic dispute.
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