FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) — About 200 protesters gathered in a St. Louis suburb in the wake of a video that appears to show a police SUV knocking a man to the ground before an officer jumps on top of the screaming man, hits him several times and handcuffs him.
The protesters blocked a road Sunday night in front of the heavily-barricaded Florissant police department, holding a “die-in” on the street, in which the participants lay face down with their hands behind their backs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The protest followed the suspension of a Florissant police officer after a video was released that appears to show a police SUV knocking a man to the ground before his arrest. The officer, whose name has not been released, is under investigation by local and federal authorities.
St. Louis County police said the encounter that was captured on a resident’s doorbell camera happened around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dellwood. The video shows the police SUV striking the man as he runs past a home. Then the officer jumps on top of the man and appears to hit him before cuffing him.
“After seeing that video, I was deeply concerned about the content of it,” Florissant Police Chief Tim Fagan said.
Fagan said he hadn’t seen the video until Saturday, four days after it happened.
“We want the same answers that the public does,” he said.
Florissant police spokesman Steve Michael said the 31-year-old detective who was driving the SUV has been suspended. Two other officers have also been put on leave.
Fagan said the man in the video who was hit by the SUV was treated at the hospital for an ankle injury. Fagan said the man and others with him face charges for drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said a special prosecutor has been appointed in the case because a relative of one of his staffers was at the scene. St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar’s office is investigating with the help of St. Louis County police and the FBI.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen issued a statement saying his office, the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and the FBI are aware of the case and will review the evidence to determine what federal response is warranted.