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Politics and Government

Some Syracuse councilors call for use-of-force review after alleged police brutality video

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO Public Media
The Syracuse Common Council.

The Syracuse Police Department is expected to soon release the results of an internal investigation into an incident of alleged police brutality, which was caught on video and shared on Facebook. Some Syracuse common councilors have spoken out against the use of force displayed in the video, and have called for the officers involved to be suspended, pending the investigation.

As the mother of two young black boys, ages 15 and 9, Councilor Latoya Allen said the video of a 23-year-old black man being pulled out of a car and punched in the face by police after a traffic stop, is a teachable moment, not only for parents and their kids, but also Syracuse police officers.

“Often times, I see their behavior," Allen said. "I’m disgusted by their behavior. I see them doing certain things or talking a certain way. It’s uncomfortable and some things shouldn’t be tolerated. I feel like this is the perfect opportunity for us now to get a grasp of the behavior of the Syracuse Police Department, and how they interact with the community.”

Police Chief Kent Buckner said in a statement that the incident occurred after police finished a drug and weapons investigation nearby. But Allen said if officers were involved in a hostile situation, they shouldn’t have to respond to another call so soon after.  

“They didn’t even have any downtime to assess what’s going on or even calm down," Allen said. "If you watch the video, even the officer that pulls up at the end, you can tell he was already ramped up coming there. He just immediately jumped out of the car. I feel like if they have time in between incidents, then that gives them time to cool off a little bit, especially if it’s something this extreme.”

Allen and other councilors are calling for a review of the department’s use-of-force policy. Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson and Councilor Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell have also spoken out against the officers’ use of force. 

Greg Loh, chief policy officer with the city, said in addition to sharing the results of the investigation of the incident, Chief Buckner has been undertaking a review of policies and procedures, including the use of force.

“It’s expected that the department will be sharing the updated use-of-force policy, as part of its update on the investigation of this matter,” Loh said.

This is the first significant use-of-force incident and investigation to occur since Buckner was sworn in this past December. Buckner has already had some tension with the police union earlier this year, over comments he made about some officers being, ‘rotten to the core.’