A video shows a Dayton Police officer punching a man during a Monday arrest, and the man and his family question whether the use of force was appropriate.
Dayton Police told this newspaper that the man was not complying with officers' orders and was resisting arrest. They said an officer punched the man three times in the right shoulder area, which did not lead to compliance, and then used his Taser, which led the officers to be able to handcuff him.
The department said that officers immediately called for a medic and alerted their sergeant about the incident. The sergeant is now investigating, Dayton police said.
An area criminal justice professor who watched the video of the event said officers responded properly.
But George Lail, 26, told the Dayton Daily News that he was wrongly pulled over by Dayton Police on Monday and then ordered out of a vehicle without being given a reason. He said he was pulled from the vehicle and put up against the hood, and he said he began to fear for his life. He said he decided to try to flee the police.
That’s when a video that had been shared more than 800 times on Facebook starts. The video shows police quickly catching up to him. It’s what happened when Lail was on the ground that has led to questions about appropriate force.
“I had my hands up under me, (and the officer) he was kneeing me in the side, and he took the handcuffs and cuffed them a little bit and started beating my ribs and hitting me in my back and telling me to give (him) my hands,” Lail said. “I can’t give you my hands when y’all are on top of me. I got two guys on top of me and then he started Tasing me for no reason. Like I was resisting arrest.”
The incident took place around 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Weston Shopping Center.
A statement issued Tuesday afternoon by Dayton City Commission said city leaders are committed to all the facts about the case coming to light.
Police said Lail was arrested on felony gun charges, including carrying concealed weapons, having weapons while under disability and improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle. It also says he was arrested for a parole violation.
Lail said he didn’t have a gun and that he is innocent. A police statement said: “... a black handgun was found sticking out of a panel in the center console, next to where the driver’s right leg would have been.”
Many people on social media questioned the officers' actions. Black Lives Matter Dayton called the video “disturbing” and said there should be suspensions.
Cedarville Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Steve Meacham said it’s not right to form opinions based on video clips of an incident. He said police have a dangerous job, and when a suspect is not complying with officers, they face a greater danger.
He said a suspect who is on the ground could still be reaching for a weapon.
“That becomes an extremely dangerous situation. When they are trying to apprehend somebody, the person he could easily have a weapon underneath him,” Meacham said.
He said officers are allowed to use force to apprehend suspects. He said based on the video alone, it does not appear that the officers could see the suspect’s hands and were working to cuff him. He noted that after the suspect is cuffed, officers stopped using any type of force.
“People need to understand to try to put yourself in the officer’s shoes. When you have people running from you and resisting arrest, it’s a dangerous job," Meacham said, adding residents should comply with orders of officers to ensure safety for everyone.
He said based on the video he said the officers handled themselves with professionalism and did a good job taking the suspect into custody.
The video circulating Facebook also caught the attention of city hall. The Dayton City Commission released a joint statement Tuesday that read:
“We are aware of the video that has been circulating online of an arrest by Dayton Police at Westown Shopping Center. The police reform process that this Commission began several months ago was created not only to change policy but to examine and - hopefully - begin to repair a deficit of trust that clearly exists between our community and the police who serve it.
"Trust is certainly tested whenever there are use-of-force incidents between Dayton Police and citizens. Trust can only occur with transparency, and this Commission is committed to ensuring that all of the facts about the incident at Westown Shopping Center this weekend come to light. We are hopeful that the community members and Dayton Police officers who have been willing to engage in difficult conversations during this reform process will continue their work of making our community safer for all of our residents.”