The Akron Police Department is launching a use of force investigation after video was circulated showing an officer punching a protester repeatedly in the face with a closed fist, Fox8 reports.
The incident took place in Akron, Ohio, during protests over the recent police killing of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, who was hit with a hail of gunfire after a police pursuit.
While Walker was reportedly unarmed when he was killed, a transportation department camera captured what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from Walker's vehicle. A gun was later found in Walker's vehicle and a shell casing was found near the area where police say a shot came from his car.
The protester who was struck by the officer is Michael Harris, of North Carolina. As the officer struck him in the face, two other officers were restraining his arms. There currently is no information about what led up to the incident before the video starts. According to a statement from Akron Police, "force was needed" to carry out the arrest.
Another person seen in the video is Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020. Blake survived the shooting but is paralyzed.
Blake Sr. traveled to Akron to peacefully protest, his brother, Justin Blake, told News 5 Cleveland. He claimed that Blake Sr. got out of a van to check on Harris when officers turned their attention to him
"Nobody understood why there were trying to arrest him. He was explaining he wasn't in the street," Justin Blake said. "At the end of the day, the police officers arrested my brother in such a brutal form that he had to go directly to the hospital."
Both Harris and Blake Sr. face charges of rioting, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and resisting arrest. Blake Sr. was hospitalized after the incident.
The investigation into the incident will go on for 30 days and will consider the “totality” of the circumstances and whether the use of force was necessary.
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