LENEXA, Kan, — What started as a routine traffic stop turned into a wild scuffle, and the incident was captured on a video that’s going viral.
Lenexa Police officers found themselves in viral video that’s been seen by almost 15,000 viewers on social media, showing a man being wrestled to the ground as officers tried to arrest him.
When Lenexa officers pulled tht driver over for a routine seatbelt violation, they found he had numerous warrants for his arrest. A random bystander recorded the ensuing struggle, and his video clip on Facebook is getting some strong reactions.
A routine traffic stop grew into a fight when Lenexa police officers stopped 30-year-old John Harrison on Thursday. Officers didn’t anticipate Harrison trying to punch one of them, as is seen in police dash camera and body camera images.
Officers also didn’t realize 30-year John Sherman was recording the event with an iPad. Sherman, who works at a nearby shopping center, was having lunch when he saw what seemed to be two white police officers roughing up a black suspect.
“The force they were using seemed excessive,” Sherman told FOX 4 News. “I was standing there trying to help the guy, saying, ‘Stop moving’ because he was screaming that he couldn’t breathe.”
Sherman says he doesn’t know Harrison personally, but many of his friends are African-American. He says he became upset when police told him to get out of their way.
“We want to see police treat people with respect, especially the civilians who are around to document that,” Sherman said. “It’s an important part of society to be able to document that.”
As of Friday afternoon, Sherman’s online video clip had ben shared by close to 400 social media users. However, police video tells a different side of the story.
“Our officers did exactly what we would want them to do,” said Lenexa Police Maj. Dawn Layman.
Maj. Layman says Sherman’s clip leaves out many facts. Police say Harrison was being arrested on 20 outstanding warrants, and because police smelled the odor of marijuana in his car. She says Sherman’s clip also doesn’t show Harrison making physical contact with the police.
“Some of the video that’s out there has been sensationalized across the country,” Maj. Layman said. “You’re going to continue to get that, but I think what really needs to be done is we need more education to the public exactly why officers do the things we do.”
Harrison is being held in the Johnson County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. Maj. Layman says her agency says citizens are fine to record police working, so long as they maintain a safe distance and refrain from interfering with police activity.