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Police defend actions during arrest outside bar near West Georgia campus

ajc.com

The Carrollton police department is defending the actions of officers in a weekend arrest outside a bar near the University of West Georgia.

After cellphone video captured an officer hitting someone in the back of the head during an arrest, police released additional videos showing the chaotic scene early Sunday morning.

Bodycam video from officers at the scene show police trying to break up a fight between two young men on the ground outside the Irish Bred Pub at about 2 a.m. Sunday. The video shows an officer quickly striking one man three times in the back of the head as police demand he show his hands. Seconds later, the man is handcuffed and taken into a police car as several young people record the incident on their phones.

WATCH: Bodycam footage of the arrest

WARNING: Contains strong language

Carrollton police release bodycam footage of a student's arrest outside a local bar. Police were dispersing the crowd. Separate footage had called the arrest into question. Police are defending the arrest. (Carrollton Police Department)

Written reports by two officers contain similar information about the incident.

“He’s doing what he’s supposed to do to get him arrested,” Deputy Chief Chris Dobbs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This guy is still resisting and we’re trying to get him in handcuffs. And he just beat up a boy he was on top of.”

Adamson Square in downtown Carrollton, with a handful of bars, is popular with the college-age crowd on weekend nights. But when the bars close at 2 a.m., crowd control becomes the top priority for all officers, Dobbs said.

“We don’t want you fighting on the square,” he said.

Videos released by the police department show officers telling crowds they can’t stay outside the closed bars early Sunday.

“Go home,” officers are heard repeatedly saying on the video.

But officers start running when a fight breaks out on the sidewalk. For unknown reasons, a man later identified as Timothy Lamar McClain, 23, was on top of an unidentified man beating him, Dobbs said.

Police said McClain is a student at West Georgia. School officials did not respond to questions about whether McClain is enrolled at the university.

“In some of the clips, you can see he’s on his hands and knees and not giving up,” Dobbs said.

Officers were able to separate the fight, but McClain continued fighting with officers, Dobbs said. One officer is seen hitting McClain three times. McClain was arrested and charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, Carroll County jail records show.

“I used force. I hit this one in the back of the head three times,” the officer, William Awalt, said in one video.

“Is that the one I was helping handcuff?,” another officer asked.

“Yes,” Awalt replied.

Despite some students’ claims that officers are targeting West Georgia students, Dobbs said instead, officers are attempting to send crowds home to avoid fights.

“It has nothing to do with West Georgia students,” he said.