A cop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is being investigated after video showed him tasing a suspect sitting on a curb. Police said the man failed to follow instructions, but a bystander accused authorities of being too aggressive.
It happened Thursday morning. Cops got a call about a man going after people with a bat, said a statement from the Lancaster Bureau of Police. Once on the scene, the responding officer ran into a group of three telling a man to get away (no bat can be seen in the video). She told this individual, later identified as Sean Williams, to sit down, but he didn’t do that, police said. He kept talking to the woman in the group, and demanded back his Social Security card, cops said. The officer again told him to sit down.
A second cop, identified by police as Officer Philip Bernot, arrived at the scene. He told Williams to sit on the curb, or else get struck by a stun gun, police said. This can be seen in the video above. The suspect sat down, but apparently not in the way the officer wanted.
“Legs out,” Benot ordered. “Straight out,” he repeated, when Williams apparently did not stretch his legs out enough. The officer stepped away when the suspect shifted his feet back.
“Legs straight out or you’re getting tased,” Benot said, and repeated the order.
“Put your legs straight out and cross them now,” said the other officer.
Williams apparently crossed his legs, but bent, in a pretzel-style. That’s when he got hit by the stun gun.
Police defended the use of force.
“Non-compliance is often a precursor to someone that is preparing to flee or fight with Officers,” the LBP said in its statement. On the scene, however, the man taking the video accused cops of going too far.
“Oh, come on, bro,” said Juan Almestica. “You really going to tase him? He was sitting down, though, bro!”
Cops arrested Williams, but didn’t find a bat at the scene. According to police, the three people said they never saw him with a bat. He had been acting erratic over the past several days, they said. He had been outside the residence earlier in flip flops trying to start a fight with them, the group reportedly told police. Williams allegedly tried to stop a woman from entering her apartment, and the group said they tried to keep him away from her. The suspect left the scene, but soon returned to brawl, this time wearing sneakers. Someone else called 911.
Williams was checked by EMS because of the tasing. Cops said they arrested him on an outstanding warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCP) and Public Drunkenness. He was arraigned and released on $5,000 bail, police said.
“All use of force incidents, like this one, are reviewed by the Use of Force training cadre and Command Staff,” they wrote.
Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace announced the investigation in a video posted to Facebook on Thursday.
“Like you, when I saw the video, I was upset by it, and it is a great concern to me, and we take the use of force very seriously,” she said.
[Screengrab via Juan Almestica]