Williamsport, PA – Cell phone video captured the moment that a trio of accused shoplifters brawled with Williamsport police near a grocery store parking lot (video below).
Jessica Barnes, one of the three suspects involved in the incident, posted footage of the altercation to Facebook on May 20, along with her account of what occurred.
“People deserve to know what our local law enforcement did and is capable of,” Barnes wrote in her lengthy post. “Fight or flight is a scary response before anyone says anything about how you do or don't act in these situations.”
The incident began at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2018, when Williamsport Police Officer Andrew Stevens and Officer Gino Caschera were dispatched to a “retail theft in progress” at a local Kohl’s store, according to the criminal complaint.
The caller told police that three females had taken items from the store, and that they refused to stop when confronted by a loss prevention officer.
They were walking towards the nearby Wegman’s grocery store when they were intercepted by Officer Caschera.
“The female Officer Caschera was attempting to detain was the main described female who actively removed items from the store,” the affidavit read.
Barnes identified that woman as “Mack” in her Facebook post.
“Instead of taking her bag and searching her tho, he immediately threw her against the outside wall of Kohl's to wrangle her into cuffs which we all thought was strange,” Barnes wrote.
“Immediately looks of confusion spread over all three of our faces and cyra and I begin asking questions about what he's doing, if she's under arrest, and why he hasn't read her rights,” Barnes added.
Cell phone footage of the scene showed the officers as they told “Mack” to drop her bag.
“F--king stupid,” one of her cohorts commented.
“She didn’t do s--t,” the other added.
While Officer Caschera tried to place the suspect into his patrol vehicle, she suddenly “kicked him in his neck,” according to the affidavit.
At that point, Barnes began running up behind Officer Caschera, police said.
“Hey! You just threw her in the f--king car?” one of the women yelled. “Help my friend! She’s a girl and she’s being manhandled!”
Officer Stevens told Barnes and her friend, Cyra Sterner, to back away from the patrol car, video footage showed.
“You dumb motherf--ker! You handcuffed her for no f--king reason!” Sterner yelled, just as a man with a young child walked by about five feet away.
“Sterner continued to yell ‘f--king pigs,’ ‘dumb motherf--ker,’ and other curse words,” Officer Stevens wrote.
He then told her she was being placed under arrest, at which point Sterner “locked her right arm up and pulled away,” causing him to try to pin her against the wall of the Kohl’s store, according to the affidavit.
Sterner repeatedly ignored orders to put her hands behind her back, then “kicked her knee up in an attempt to knee me away from her,” Officer Stevens wrote.
The officer kicked Sterner’s feet out from under her and took her to the ground.
Sterner screamed and wailed while hurling profanities at police during the scuffle that ensued, video footage showed.
The officers repeatedly told her to stop resisting, but Sterner “again stated ‘no’ and was actively trying to pull her hands away… so she could not be handcuffed” and then tried to “punch” officer Stevens, according to the affidavit.
“Sterner’s behavior was so obnoxious, she caused approximately  people to stop [and] watch” the melee, Officer Stevens noted.
Police confirmed that Sterner and her friends were “actively stealing cosmetic items” from the Kohl’s store and were able to recover the stolen merchandise, according to the report.
Barnes noted in her post that she and Sterner “should not have been yelling like that,” but said that they “were all so confused.”
She further claimed that “Mack” was “dragged” to the patrol vehicle by her handcuffs before the officer hit her head off the roof of the car and “kicked her the rest of the way into the car.”
“WE PANICKED AND GOT LOUD,” Barnes said. “We all have PTSD and abuse history.”
Sterner reportedly had brain surgery in the past, and Barnes claimed the altercation with police could have cost her her life.
“They literally could have killed her with the amount of unnecessary force they used that day,” Barnes claimed.
In her post, Barnes made no mention of the stolen items recovered by police and alleged that she was “kicked in the ankle and taken” after she “reminded” the officers that she was recording the scene.
She alleged that the officers deleted the video from her phone, but that she was able to recover it.
“Their affidavits were full of lies [because] they thought I didn't have the video anymore,” she claimed. “It was a mess. This is your local law enforcement.”
You can watch cell phone footage of the officers’ altercation with the three belligerent suspects in the video below: