An arrest made by Minden Police Department Officers Thursday morning was captured on video, and subsequently blew up on Facebook, bringing into question the officers use of force when apprehending the suspect.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper conducted an interview with the Minden Press-Herald providing details about the sequence of events leading up to the arrest that was captured on video.
Chief Cropper stated that early Thursday morning the Minden Police Department received a call, with the caller reporting a black male lying in or near the roadway of Gum Street. “The caller wasn’t sure if he might be having a heart attack or having a seizure or something, but that she felt like something medically was wrong with him because they were just laying in front of her house,” said Cropper.
“When the first officer got there, he didn’t see anyone laying in the roadway or near the roadway on the street. On one of the passes, he noticed a small child standing in the front yard, by himself.”
The child was later identified as being the grandson of the suspect, who was being taken to school.
“He stopped and asked the small child who he was and where he was supposed to be, and if he had seen anybody going in the street or near the street. This child points across the street to the front of the house, directly across the street,” said Cropper.
“The officer looked over there and observed a man laying up in the bushes by the front of the house. So he goes across the street and starts talking to him.”
Some sources have reported that the suspect was having a seizure before Minden Police arrested him. Chief Cropper stated that body camera footage showing the suspect walking around before the arrest was made shows that this was not the case.
“This is all on video. His body cam catches him walking across the yard, the black male stands up. So he’s definitely not having a seizure and definitely not having a heart attack,” said Cropper.
“He stands up, he is incoherent and would not respond to the officer. The officer asked him if he was OK, and he didn’t respond. He asked who he was, he didn’t respond. He asked him where he was supposed to be, he didn’t respond,” said Cropper.
“So the officer tries to walk him over to the driveway to sit on the edge of the driveway so he could figure out who he was and where he was supposed to be and if anything was wrong with him.”
At this point Chief Cropper stated that the suspect attempted to walk away from the officers, into the carport of the yard they were in. “The officer catches up to him and when he catches up to him in the driveway, the black male walks up into the carport. The carport is relatively narrow, and he didn’t have about a three-foot space between the car, the carport, and the house. The officer didn’t want to be in that close-quarters area with this guy that appears to be incoherent,” said Cropper.
“So he says, no, come on back here and let’s talk in the driveway, and the man just continues to try to walk towards the door. So the officer takes him by his arm and tries to turn him around and walk him back out to the driveway. The guy starts pulling away from him, jerking away from him. About that time, the second officer arrives, and he runs up there and he and he’s also trying to get him out into the driveway out of that close quarters area.”
Shortly after the second officer arrives, they are able to get the suspect out from under the carport, but he then tries to fight the officers according to Chief Cropper.
The guy just starts getting more violent and more violent, pulling away, trying to get away from him. Finally, they get him pulled out from under the carport, into the driveway and kind of in the front yard, and the man just literally starts fighting them. They couldn’t get him under control. He was a six-foot-three, 240-pound man that was potentially on mind-altering drugs, we feel like for sure,” said Cropper.
“He started fighting with them, they couldn’t get him. He was tossing my two officers around all over the front yard. The Third officer gets there, he engages, trying to help the two officers get him handcuffed. He fights all three of them, he’s pushing them. They got him on the ground, but he’s pushing them off of him.”
“So then the fourth officer arrives. They still don’t have him detained or handcuffed, and that’s when one of the officers started doing soft tissue body strikes to try to get him to comply. That didn’t work,” said Cropper.
He stated that use of soft tissue body strikes were used after the fourth officer witnessed that the three officers had yet to detain him. The fifth officer arrived on the scene with the suspect still not and handcuffs, being the one seen on video striking the suspect.
“Then the fifth officer gets there and they’re still fighting. There’s still four officers on top of him. He’s still not in handcuffs. That’s the officer that actually came up and did the heel-toe strikes to his soft tissue points. He struck him up underneath his armpit and then he struck him also in his upper chest to get him to comply, so they could actually get him in handcuffs.”
Chief Cropper also stated that as soon as the suspect was handcuffed, all officers promptly got off of him and transported him to the emergency room due to his continued incoherency.
“Once they got him handcuffed they all got off him. They got him set up. They got him to try to breathe. He was still trying to continue to get up to the point that when medical got there, medical refused to transport him because he was still resisting, even after he was handcuffed,” said Cropper.
“So we transported him to the hospital because he was very incoherent. He was wanting his momma. He was just talking out of his head. So they were concerned about him and his state of mind.”
In regards to the use of force that was seen in the video, Chief Cropper has put the officer seen using heel-toe-strikes under administrative leave, and has retained a use of force expert to conduct an independent investigation. He stated he doesn’t believe that the officers did anything wrong, as they were doing what they were trained to do to get the suspect in compliance.
“I placed the officer on administrative leave pending the investigation. I retained a use-of-force court-certified expert to review the case. We will get him all the information first thing Monday morning. And he will do an independent investigation to see whether the officers violated any policies or are in any violation of excessive force or not.
“Not that I thought the officer did anything wrong. They did exactly what they were trained to do to get this guy in compliance. I questioned how it was done, especially for the officer that was doing the heel strikes. I’ve been in that position before and I questioned why he chose to do what he did. And he had an explanation,” said Cropper. He said there were already four people on each other. I didn’t feel like I could do any more about it in the middle of the dog pile. And he said, I wanted it to stop. He said, I didn’t want the suspect to get hurt any more than he already was, and he said, I sure didn’t want the officer to get hurt. So that’s the reason he decided to do the heel toe strikes to the side and to his chest to get him to comply to get the handcuffs on.”
The suspect has been charged with possession of a schedule I substance and potentially with face charges for resisting arrest.