An investigation is under way in Georgia after video emerged that appeared to show white officers pummelling a black man and forcing his face into the road, after the taxi he was traveling in was apparently stopped and he was asked to show his ID.
Officials in Clayton County, south of Atlanta, said an officer had been placed on administrative leave and that the internal investigation team had launched a probe.
They did so after various clips posted on social media showed two officers from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department punching the unidentified black man, and forcing his face down into the highway.
A woman can be heard screaming: “Don’t kill him. Officer, he says he can’t breathe. He said he can’t breathe … He’s bleeding from his nose.”
The clips contain loud and repeated swearing, much of it directed at the officers.
Accompanying one clip, that appears to be have recorded directly next to what happened, and which was posted on Instagram, one woman wrote: “So this happened today to my cousin he was in lyft or wateva and the man tail light was out the police stopped them the man didn’t have his License my cousin and his girl was in the car they ask him for his he said y are yal asking me for mines I’m not driving they told him to get out the car and this what happened.”
The woman posted the footage on Friday.
Later that evening, a post on the official Facebook page of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office’s read: “After being made aware of a video posted on social media involving a Deputy using physical force on a man, Sheriff Victor Hill ordered his entire Internal Affairs Unit to come in and begin an investigation that has been on going since 8pm.”
It added: “The Sheriff has ordered that the Deputy involved be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”
On Saturday, the department failed to respond to enquiries from The Independent.
While much about the incident remains unclear, it appears to represent the latest shocking and violent encounter between white police officers and unarmed black men.
Jacob Blake speaks from hospital bed says it hurts to breathe
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, an investigation is under way after a white police officer shot a 29-year-old black man seven times in the back. That man, Jacob Blake, is now expected to be paralysed for life.
Meanwhile, cities across the nation were rocked by protests following the May killing of George Floyd, who was also unarmed, and who was filmed being kneeled on by a white officer, as he said he could not breathe.
CBS46 News said that in of the recordings of the incident in Georgia, an officer can be heard to say: “He bit my hand.”
The man on the ground can be heard saying: “I’m about to die”.
On Friday, as news of the video spread, the Clayton County Police Department issued a statement saying that it was officers from the sheriff’s department, and not its own staff, involved in the incident.
“The Clayton County Police Department is aware of the current social media video,” it said.
“The deputies in this video are not employed by the Clayton County Police Department; they are employed by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is aware & they are investigating.”