Video Of University Of Alabama Students' Arrest Shows Yet More Aggressive Actions Taken By Police
A disturbing end to a Saturday night for three University of Alabama students was caught on video, rocking the campus and Tuscaloosa's police department. While allegedly responding to a noise complaint for loud music, officers were filmed physically pulling the students out of their apartment and onto the ground outside. On video, the officers are seen using a Taser on one of the students and beating him repeatedly with a night stick before placing him under arrest. Other officers at the scene used profanity toward bystanders and friends of the arrested students who tried to argue about the legality of the situation.
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson put three officers on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. "Needless to say, once I started watching it, I was deeply disturbed by what I saw," the chief said at a press conference Monday. He said the internal affairs department would review the videos that circulated online as well as body cameras that were worn by the officers responding to the scene. The first officer on the scene called for backup and was quickly joined by many other officers, the majority of whom were wearing body cameras, Anderson said.
The incident was taped from angles both inside and outside the apartment, and at the beginning of the altercation, the students can be heard challenging the officer's right to enter their apartment. The first video starts with the responding officer holding onto the hand of one of the students, a male wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt and a baseball cap. A male voice says, "Please let go. Please let go of him." And in the background a woman can be heard saying, "Why, why are you doing this?" The officer calls for backup. He then tries to pull the student out of the apartment but fails. The student then tells him to, "Get out. Get out. Sir, I respect your authority, but you are not allowed in my apartment."
The officer then tries to grab the student again and says that the he is under arrest for grabbing the officer's arm. "Get outside now. Get outside," the officer screams. He grabs the student's T-shirt and another male student approaches the officer and asks what the first student is being arrested for. The second student tries to shut the door but the officer's hand is in the way. Then the officer appears to see that backup has arrived and lunges at the first student and pulls him out of the apartment.
Meanwhile students in the apartment continue to question the legality of the situation and ask why. Another officer comes in and tells them, "Shut your f*cking mouth!" and "Shut the f*ck up." When warned that the incident is being filmed, the officer responds, "I don't give a sh*t." Through the rest of the video, you can hear at least one of students crying outside.
A second video taken from a neighbor's apartment on the second floor of the complex begins when the first officer runs in and pulls the male student out of the doorway. Another officer runs up to him and immediately uses the Taser before any other attempt at restraint. An officer then beats the same student with a night stick repeatedly.
Police Chief Anderson said that he took the incident seriously and that he didn't want the department's good reputation destroyed by a "careless or senseless act." "We're going to take a look at each and every officer's actions," Anderson said. "We're going to do an open and honest investigation and be transparent."
Three of the police officers were from the University of Alabama force. The university released a statement on Twitter that said the three arrested students had been contacted and were being provided support. The three university officers are also being reviewed to ensure they responded appropriately.
The names of the three arrested students were released Monday. The students — Matthew Macia, 22; Brandon Williford, 21; and Caroline Giddis, 22 — were charged with a mix of offenses that included obstructing governmental operations, resisting arrest, and harassment.
The names of the three officers who were put on leave, however, were not released. The officers put on leave was the first officer on the scene, the one who used the Taser, and the one who beat the student with a night stick. They have eight, twelve, and two years on the force, respectively.
We'll have to wait to see the outcome of the police department's review, but they have plenty of evidence to consider.