Video of Pennsylvania officer restraining man sparks protests

Video shows officer in Allentown restraining a man outside a hospital by pressing his knee on the man's neck.

    A protester reacts outside the city hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a white police officer was caught on a bystander's video pressing his knee into the neck of African-American man George Floyd. Officers in Allentown, Pennsylvania are accused of using the same technique to restrain a man there over the weekend. [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]
    A protester reacts outside the city hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a white police officer was caught on a bystander's video pressing his knee into the neck of African-American man George Floyd. Officers in Allentown, Pennsylvania are accused of using the same technique to restrain a man there over the weekend. [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

    Video posted on social media that shows a Pennsylvania police officer with his knee on a man's neck while trying to restrain him has prompted protests and a demand from the local Black Lives Matter group to suspend the officers involved.

    The video shot Saturday night from a passer-by's vehicle shows officers in Allentown, Pennsylvania restraining a man on the ground outside the emergency room of the Sacred Heart Campus of St Luke's Hospital. An officer has his elbow on the man's neck before switching to a knee to hold him down while other officers restrained his arms.

    The man does not appear to be resisting during the video.

    Allentown police said on Monday they are conducting a "use of force" investigation into the incident.

    "The investigation into this incident is moving swiftly," the department said in a statement, noting that the probe will be reviewed by the local district attorney.

    A protest dubbed "Demands Will Be Met" was scheduled for Monday night, with demonstrators planning to march to Allentown City Hall and police department headquarters.

    The local Black Lives Matter group issued a list of demands, including the release of any police bodycam video of the incident, the suspension of the officers involved, the name and condition of the man, the establishment of a regional criminal justice review board and a reallocation of police funding.

    "Pending the outcome of this investigation, if they are not on the right side of justice, then those officers need to be terminated," said Justan Parker, founder of Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley.

    The Allentown department released details about its use of force policy earlier this month, five weeks after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on George Floyd's neck for several minutes, even after he stopped responding. Floyd's death has set off protests around the world calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

    The policy prohibits neck restraints and chokeholds. It said that officers should only use the amount of force necessary to control the situation.

    According to the police statement, officers were outside the hospital for an unrelated matter when they saw a man staggering in the street, vomiting and stopping in the driveway of the ER.

    The officers and hospital staff interacted with the man, who began to yell and spit at them, police said. The statement said the man was "noncompliant which required officers to restrain" him. It is unclear from the video how long the officer had his knee on the man's neck.

    The man was treated at the hospital and released.

    Police have not released the name or race of any individuals seen in the video.

    The video was posted to social media where people on the Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley Facebook page demanded answers from police. The group formed a protest late Saturday in front of the police station, and is planning another march to City Hall on Monday evening with community leaders slated as speakers.

    Allentown Mayor Ray O'Connell and Chief of Police Glenn Grantiz Jr showed up to the protest. Both said the police need to investigate the matter further. O'Connell called the video "disturbing".

    Police said in their statement that they plan on releasing more videos later this week.

    SOURCE: AP news agency