Protests after Pennsylvania police officer filmed kneeling on man’s head and neck

Andrew Naughtie
·2-min read

A video of a black man being restrained by police kneeling on his head and neck in Pennsylvania has provoked outrage, with many comparing it to footage of the killing of George Floyd.

The incident took place outside a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Saturday and was filmed by a passer-by. One video, less than 30 seconds long, shows three white officers holding the man on the ground.

As he screams, one of the officers uses his elbow and then his knee to press him to the ground.

The two people filming the footage from their car can be hearing saying “we don’t matter!” and “bro, get off his neck!”

A statement from the Allentown police department has addressed what happened – but does not acknowledge or directly refer to the restraining method that the officers used.

A police officer kneels on a man who was reportedly behaving "erratically" outside a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania: Twitter
A police officer kneels on a man who was reportedly behaving "erratically" outside a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania: Twitter

According to the department, the officers first saw the man “vomiting and staggering in the street” before he came to a stop in the driveway of the emergency room.

“The observed erratic behaviour resulted in the officers and hospital staff interacting with the individual,” said the statement.

“The individual began to yell, scream and spit at the officers and hospital staff. As the officers attempted to restrain the individual, all parties fell to the ground. The individual continued to be noncompliant, which required officers to restrain the individual and the hospital applied a spit shield.”

Neither the officers nor the apprehended man were officially identified, and it is unclear whether the man was ultimately arrested.

The footage, which has been shared thousands of times on social media, drew some 50 protesters to the doors of the city’s police headquarters, many of them furious and shocked that a police officer would use the same neck restraint method deployed in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Ben Crump, the attorney representing Mr Floyd’s family, shared the video himself, tweeting: “GRAPHIC VIDEO: @AllentownPolice held down this man’s face to the pavement and then one of its officers placed their knee on his neck!! This happened yesterday and is exactly what led to #GeorgeFloyd’s death. We need this officer’s name and badge # NOW. #ICantBreathe”.

The assistant chief of Allentown police, Bill Lake, said that the incident had come under immediate review once the department was made aware of the footage.