Atlanta police are investigating after an officer was captured in a viral video trading punches with a suspect during a drug arrest in southwest Atlanta earlier this month.
The three-minute video shows the altercation between the Sgt. Dominique Pattillo and suspect Harold Barnwell. Atlanta police released the cellphone video of the incident to AJC.com after an edited portion surfaced on social media Thursday.
“We are aware of the video and the complaint filed with our Office of Professional Standards,” the department said in a statement. “We will investigate the matter and take appropriate action if it is determined any departmental polices or procedures were not followed.”
The department has placed Pattillo on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Atlanta police Sgt. John Chafee told AJC.com.
About 7:30 p.m. July 9, Branwell led an Atlanta police officer on a chase in a red Dodge Charger, running several red lights near the intersection of Joseph E. Boone and Joseph E. Lowery boulevards, according to a police report obtained by AJC.com.
At one point, police said Barnwell hit another car before abandoning his Charger and running from officers into a wooded area. As officers searched for him, Barnwell is seen in the video going back to his car and retrieving a red satchel.
Pattillo spotted Barnwell and ordered him to drop the bag, which contained “several bags of raw marijuana,” according to the report. Pattillo is heard on video ordering Barnwell to put his hands behind his back.
“For what?” Barnwell can be heard asking.
That is when things appear to take a turn.
Pattillo is seen in the video punching Barnwell and drawing his Taser. As Barnwell stumbles, his mother, identified in the police report as Jennifer Barnwell, intervenes in the arrest and is pushed away by Pattillo. Jennifer Barnwell falls to the ground.
From there, Barnwell and Pattillo engage in a brief scuffle. Barnwell, in a fighting stance, throws two missed punches, according to police.
Other Atlanta police officers arrive to the scene and break up the fight, which left Pattillo with a dislocated pinkie finger, according to the police report. He was taken to the hospital and treated.
Harold and Jennifer Barnwell were arrested at the scene and face obstruction charges. Harold Barnwell also faces marijuana possession charges. They are out of jail on bond.
The NAACP is demanding answers.
In another tweet, the NAACP said it was “deeply concerned” by the level of force used and demanded a meeting with Atlanta police.
On Friday, the NAACP tweeted it had met with Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields, which was confirmed by Atlanta police.
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