Allentown police on Monday night released a more than nine-minute video of an aggressive encounter that has sparked multiple protests on the city’s streets.
The release came shortly after 8 p.m. as crowds from the latest protest dispersed from Seventh and Hamilton streets. Participants were calling for Allentown to publicly identify, arrest and suspend one of the officers involved.
The source of the outrage was a less than 30-second video of the encounter that circulated on social media. The video clip apparently depicts the officer in question placing his knee on the neck of a man Saturday night outside of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus at 421 W. Chew St.
The 9:39 video released by police on Monday night captures the moment when the officer made the move, which protestors have noted to be similar to the maneuver a Minneapolis officer deployed for almost nine minutes on George Floyd. Floyd was killed, and the Minneapolis officer is now charged with his death.
“Approximately 23 seconds of middle portion of the video is reflected in what has been observed on social media,” police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. says in a statement accompanying the video.
The chief says it also shows that officers and medical personnel later placed “a breathable spit mask” over the man’s head.
“The final portion of the video depicts hospital staff and police escorting the individual into the hospital,” he says.
The video supports the chief’s statements. It also provides more insight into the moments leading up to the encounter and the state of the man who ended up on the ground with the knee to his neck. Additionally, it captures a second, previously unseen moment in which the same officer appears to put his knee on the man’s head and neck area after the man had already been restrained.
At the start of the video, the man enters the frame stumbling to the point that he can barely remain on his feet. He then stops in front of the entrance to the hospital’s emergency room and bends over. It appears as if he’s vomiting.
Two officers standing near an ambulance bay take notice of his behavior and observe him from afar for more than a minute. There is no sound on the video, but they appear to be communicating with him; the officers make some hand motions.
When the man starts pacing back and forth, the officers approach and several people in scrubs emerge from the ambulance bay. The man gets on his knees as the officers both put on gloves. He then points at the people in scrubs. The officers walk behind the man and attempt to handcuff him. The man at this point rises to his feet and pulls away. One of the officers trips the man to the ground, he rolls over and both officers grab him while he’s on the ground. A woman in uniform also assists in holding the man down. One of the officers appears to place his knee on the man’s head and neck area for about eight seconds.
The man is now restrained, the officer who used his knee throws something to the ground in apparent frustration and the group surrounding the man appear to take a breather. The man flails a short while later while on the ground, and the same officer appears to briefly put his knee to the man’s head and neck area.
The officers, assisted by the people in scrubs, then put the spit mask over the man’s head, bring him to his feet and escort him into the hospital.
Granitz, the police chief, says in his statement that the video was captured from a vantage point across the street. The high-quality footage appears to be shot from a city camera, but the chief did not specify this is his statement.
He says police continue to “swiftly” investigate. “Witnesses are being interviewed and evidence is being collected,” he says.
More than 200 people attended the protest earlier Monday evening. They criticized the police chief for his first statement on the encounter. They said the chief failed to even acknowledge in that statement that the officer put his knee on the man’s neck.
Granitz did not reference that move in his most recent statement accompanying the video, either.
Nick Falsone can be reached at email@example.com.