Richmond Police say a YouTube video that appears to show an officer lunging at and choking a man at the Shamrock the Block festival Saturday is being reviewed by department administrators.
Police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh says the review will be conducted by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is still in its infancy. She says the department currently has no other details to release. Richmond Police didn’t immediately identify the officers involved in the arrests or those arrested at the annual St. Patrick’s Day street festival in Shockoe Bottom.
Two separate videos, including one titled “Cops choke out drunk at shamrock the block 2013,” were uploaded to YouTube Sunday evening and show the incident, which begins as police deal with an apparently intoxicated man wearing nothing but green boxer briefs.
Over the course of several minutes, the situation deteriorates. Following what in the video appears to be a verbal exchange between a separate, clothed man and an officer, a brawl ensues (at 2:35 in the above video). The video shows the officer stepping toward the man, grabbing his neck and wrestling him against a wall.
The man fights back and at one point pins the officer to the ground before a police sergeant with a telescoping night stick intervenes, striking the subject several times. Once the man is subdued, the sergeant gets up and begins to push a crowd of onlookers away from the scene, telling them, “Y’all back the fuck up.”
Steve Benjamin, a Richmond Defense attorney, says it’s not clear from the video alone whether the officer’s actions are justified.
“Looking at this, I cannot say the officer was acting inappropriately,” he says. “One thing that’s obvious is that the only people who will be able to accurately assess the officer’s actions will be those who are able to interview the witnesses involved, including the officers, to determine all the facts -- all of the surrounding circumstances."
Benjamin says that based on the video alone it looks like police handled the situation as well as possible.
“From what I have seen, it appears that the officer was acting appropriately to maintain control of a volatile situation,” he says. “They obviously had to work very hard to calm down the first individual. … They eventually get him calm, but the crowd appears to be aggravating the situation. Then this one guy appears to move back in on the situation that they now have under control. We don’t know what he’s saying or doing and we’re missing an essential part of the video because the camera pans down to the ground, but when it comes back up, he’s clearly in the officer’s space.”
Richmonders reacting to the video on Twitter interpreted the video very differently:
@ksiddall thats the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long time— Nick Dawson (@nickdawson) March 18, 2013
@nickdawson agreed. I am pro police. I support the RPD. You'd never see this with the older generation of police. The newer RPD scare me— Kira Siddall (@KSiddall) March 18, 2013
And, for the record, here's the second video of the altercation:
Virginia Commonwealth University's swinging pep band, the Peppas, showed up on the set of The Today Show this morning atop a double-decker "Havoc" bus.
Al Roker climbed aboard the bus and jammed for a bit. VCU plays St. Joseph's University tonight at 6:30 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Avert your eyes, University of Richmond fans: See the video here.
The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” statute is unconstitutional. Among other things, the act criminalizes “all acts of oral and anal sex, including private acts between consenting adults,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports the decision.
From the ACLU’s press release:
The Court of Appeals wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2003 ruling, Lawrence v. Texas, invalidated all state statutes that criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults, and ruled that such statutes should not be the basis of a criminal prosecution. “It is shameful that Virginia continued to prosecute individuals under the sodomy statute for ten years after the Supreme Court held that such laws are unconstitutional," said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg. "This ruling should bring an end to such prosecutions.”
Read the court’s decision here
Introduced in 1972, the Fan District parking zone was briefly ruled unconstitutional by a city traffic judge after a ticket was contested by a non resident. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually heard a related case and in 1977 overturned a Virginia Supreme Ruling that deemed resident-only parking programs discriminatory.
From Oct. 12, 1977, Richmond News Leader:
A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding special parking privileges that differentiate between residents and nonresidents of an area will prompt Richmond and Charlottesville officials to consider reverting to the original parking provisions adopted for the lower Fan area.
City Councilman Wayland W. Rennie said yesterday after being told of the high court’s ruling, which as announced earlier in the day, that he would sponsor a move to reinstate the original Fan parking provision. The measure is similar to the Arlington County law that was upheld by the court. …
The city stopped ticketing cars that were parked for more than an hour and didn’t have the decals after a Richmond traffic court judge ruled the city’s provision was unconstitutional. The decision was based on a Virginia Supreme Court ruling in a test of Arlington County law.