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At a time when the profound ramifications over the death of George Floyd in police custody are still being felt across the entire country, a now-viral cell phone video appears to show an Allentown, Pa., cop, with his knee on a man’s neck on Saturday evening.
At least two investigations are underway, one by the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office and another by the police department’s internal affairs division over use of force.
Apparently there may be additional videos available. Detectives are also conducting interviews with witnesses to the encounter.
The video shot from a passing car gained significant traction on social media after it was re-shared on Sunday by Ben Crump, the prominent civil rights attorney who is representing George Floyd’s family.
Said Crump in his tweet, “Allentown Police held down this man’s face to the pavement and then one of its officers placed their knee on his neck! This happened yesterday and is exactly what led to #GeorgeFloyd’s death.”
In the footage, three officers who were on the scene to originally respond to another matter are shown trying to subdue a man outside of St. Luke’s Hospital.
GRAPHIC VIDEO: @AllentownPolice held down this man’s face to the pavement and then one of its officers placed their knee on his neck!! This happened yesterday and is exactly what led to #GeorgeFloyd’s death. We need this officer’s name and badge # NOW. #ICantBreathe pic.twitter.com/3qSlKGSgF4
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 12, 2020
The incident prompted a BLM protest that same night, with another march scheduled for early Monday evening.
According to Police Chief Glenn Granitz, Jr., the man was engaging in erratic behavior such as “vomiting and staggering in the street” before he stopped outside the hospital’s emergency room, PennLive explained.
He also was allegedly yelling, screaming, and spitting at cops and healthcare workers. Officers restrained him because he was non-compliant, and in the process, wound up on the ground.
“The chief did not specifically say why one officer felt the need to put his knee on the man’s head and neck,” PennLive added.
The man received treatment at the hospital and was subsequently discharged.
Under the Allentown PD Use of Force guidelines published in January but released last week, “Use of neck restraints or similar weaponless control techniques (choke holds) is prohibited.”
A slightly longer version totaling 26 seconds of the video was posted by Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley.
BREAKING:@AllentownPolice were filmed Saturday evening applying the same force to a resident that the cops used to murder #GeorgeFloyd.
This happened here in #Allentown outside a hospital.
We demand answers. We demand change.
We're Done Dying.#DefundThePolice pic.twitter.com/AbuyvkMNdT
— Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley (@BLMlehighvalley) July 12, 2020
“The entire clip was fewer than 30 seconds long. It was unclear from the video how long the officer held his knee to the back of the man’s neck,” Fox News observed.
Neither version depict what led up to the scuffle, and that’s where additional videos can be informative.
Mayor Ray O’Connell deemed the video “disturbing,” but also pointed out that “I think we need to gather all the facts and information before we go forward.”
Allentown is located about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
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