Last Thursday, Washington, D.C.'s Metro Transit Police were caught on tape arresting a man, later identified as Dwight Harris, for public intoxication and assault on a police officer at the city's U Street-Cardoza Metrorail Station. On its face, this doesn't sound like an event warranting a blog post or even national attention, right? That is, until you hear all the facts and see a video of the arrest.
First, let's start with the police officers' account of the event. According to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) official statement:
"On Thursday, May 19, the Metro Transit Police on routine patrol at the U St. Metrorail station observed a patron in a wheelchair drinking an alcoholic beverage. The officers asked the patron to leave the area and he refused. The officers then attempted to issue the patron a citation and when the patron refused to comply with the issuance of a citation he was told that he would be placed under arrest. The patron resisted arrest which resulted in him falling out of his wheelchair. The patron was arrested for assault on a police officer and drinking in public."
I highlighted two obvious lies in the officers' version of events (as relayed by WMATA's official statement): The claim that Mr. Harris (1) fell out of his wheelchair, and (2) assaulted a police officer.
Check out video of incident (below):
You tell me. Does it look like Mr. Harris fell out of his wheelchair or assaulted a police officer in this video? It doesn't to me. If anything, the video clearly demonstrates the officers' use of excessive force. Perhaps making their conduct especially egregious is the fact that they assaulted a handicapped man.
In my opinion, the officers lied to explain away Mr. Harris' facial injuries for which he later required medical attention. They clearly didn't expect this video to surface, revealing their wrongdoing to the greater public. Because, if they did, they surely would've come up with better lies.
Check out latest video about Mr. Harris here.
The media is now reporting that Mr. Harris' alcohol level was .30 on the day of his arrest. Perhaps this information is being released in an attempt to justify the officers' behavior. It means nothing to me. It doesn't change my feelings about what I witnessed on that video.
The officers were wrong, plain and simple. It hope that Mr. Harris sees justice on this matter and the officers are promptly punished, starting with the termination of their employment and any retirement benefits they may have earned thus far.