Boston police have launched an investigation into an incident captured on video showing an officer putting his hands on the neck of a handcuffed suspect.
The undated video was posted to YouTube on Monday. In the clip, the young man approached a plainclothes officer who was filming civilians on a Boston street and shouted a profanity. As the youth walked away, another plainclothes officer followed him.
That second officer grabbed his arm and walked him to a police cruiser, where he instructed a uniformed officer to arrest the youth for disorderly conduct.
After the young man was handcuffed, he again shouted obscenities and resisted officers’ efforts to place him into the cruiser. At one point, the uniformed officer put his hands on the suspect’s neck for about 10 seconds, and the young man was pushed into the back seat.
Boston Police Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, a department spokesman, said in a telephone interview that the Internal Affairs Division is “looking into” the video clip. As of Monday, no officers had been disciplined, he said.
“No one has come forward to complain [about the incident], but that hasn’t stopped us from at least turning it over to Internal Affairs,” McCarthy said.
He said he did not have the name of the officer who put his hands on the suspect’s neck, but he argued that the officer did not apply pressure to the young man’s throat.
“It’s on the base of his neck,” McCarthy said. “They’re trying to push him down into the police car, and he continued to talk and yell. There’s no indication that there was any type of force used around his neck.”
Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, who had viewed the video, condemned the officers’ actions.
“It appears that the officer has no basis to even arrest this young man,” Hall said. “He’s engaging in protected speech, as unsavory as it may be.”
Hall also asserted that police used excessive force.
“The level of force that was used, specifically the officer who was choking the young man, was completely unnecessary,” Hall said. “There seems to be no justifiable reason for that officer to place his hands on the young man’s neck. This officer appears to be set on revenge because of what this young man said.”
He also said the incident underscored the need for Boston police to wear body cameras, noting that an officer was also filming the incident. City officials have said they are open to consider body cameras, but the department has not implemented a program.
“I’m assuming that this officer is going to suggest that he was doing it to record his version of events,” Hall said. “That’s exactly what body cameras will be used for, in addition to police accountability.”
McCarthy, the police spokesman, said the department appreciates the fact that a member of the public shot the video of the incident.
“It’ll certainly go to help with our investigation,” he said.