Griffin, GA – Police officials defended the actions of an officer featured making an arrest in a viral video and said the officer could have used even more force against the suspect (video below).
"The officers used the required amount of force reasonable to detain him even though a greater amount of force would have been authorized under the circumstances, such as a Taser or electronic control device," the Griffin Police Department said in a statement, according to WAGA.
The incident began at about 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 29 when a Griffin police officer witnessed a “hand to hand” drug transaction take place between the drivers of a white SUV and a blue Dodge pickup truck, WXIA reported.
The officer recognized the driver of the blue pickup as 32-year-old Joshua McDowell, whom he had previously arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Police said McDowell was out on bond and driving the same vehicle in which he had previously been arrested, according to WXIA.
The police report said the officer followed McDowell when he left the driveway, and initiated a traffic stop shortly thereafter at 16th and Solomon Streets.
Newly released video from the police officer’s bodycam showed he told McDowell to show his hands, and then had the driver get out of the car.
“Hey, let me see your hands, Joshua. Come out of the car man. What you doing?” the officer.
The video showed the officer turned McDowell around to face the truck and began handcuffing him.
"The officer knew Joshua McDowell by face and name, knew he had a history of taking flight and knew that he had multiple arrests for drug offenses," the Griffin Police Department said in a statement, according to WAGA. "McDowell initially complied. However, during the placement of handcuffs on McDowell, he began to resist and attempted to flee."
That’s when the bodycam video cuts off because McDowell tried to make a run for it.
Police officials said the officer’s bodycam got knocked to the ground in the process of detaining the suspect.
The passenger inside the truck began filming with his cell phone at that point.
The video showed the officer struggling with McDowell beside the open driver’s door of the truck.
The officer backed the suspect up against the truck and pointed his Taser at him at close range as he repeatedly ordered him to stop fighting and turn around.
In the video, McDowell ran his mouth through the entire arrest. He repeatedly asked the officer where his bodycam was, as if he wanted him to turn around and pick it up.
When backup arrived, officers put McDowell face-down on the pavement and took him into custody.
McDowell’s fiancé and his passenger, Shakera Davis, complained that the officer’s use-of-force was inappropriate.
“When [the officer] came to the car, he didn’t ask for no license, no registration. He called him by his name and told him to put his hands against the car,” Davis told WXIA. “He started slamming him into the car, which is when I pulled out my phone because that’s not right ... He abused that man.”
But police officials said that was a mischaracterization of what happened, and said the officer could have actually deployed the Taser given what the videos showed.
“The passenger in McDowell’s vehicle posted a video to social media, which shows one handcuff on McDowell and the officer’s body camera out of its proper place,” the department said in a statement. “This video does capture an expletive-laden threat of use of force [by the officer], but this 'threat' did prevent an 'actual' use of force. This video does not depict McDowell being struck, beaten and otherwise physically mistreated other than the minimum amount of control needed to effect his lawful arrest.”
“A review of this matter has been conducted, and it was found that the officer’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances and his use of force was not excessive,” the department said. “The expletives used, while not desirable, communicated the severity of the situation in a manner that contributed to an avoidance of force escalation.”
Police searched McDowell’s truck and found 60 doses of Ecstasy and 10 grams of marijuana.
Both McDowell and Davis denied the drugs were theirs, according to WXIA.
McDowell was arrested and charged with possession of Ecstasy with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, and resisting arrest.
Watch video of the incident below: