Critics of America’s police often say that units use excessive force and inadvertently escalate situations that could otherwise end peacefully. The video below, released by the Evanston, IL Police, shows just how embarrassing these moments can be.
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The video was recorded back in 2015, and investigations into the incident have only recently reached the point that would allow for the release of the footage.
It began when Lawrence Crosby was working on his car around 7:00 PM. A woman passing by saw Lawrence, who is black, and assumed he was attempting to steal the car. She immediately dialed 911 and reported the crime.
“Hi somebody’s trying to break into, somebody’s trying to break into a car,” she told the dispatcher. “I Think the person just got into the car.”
Crosby was stealing his own car. The engineering doctoral candidate at Northwestern University was acting wholly within his rights. As he got into the car, and drove, the woman who had called 911 followed him, giving his location information to the dispatcher who was relaying it to the police.
Crosby, aware that something strange was happening, began driving to the police station. He thought he was being followed. Before he could arrive there, the police pulled him over.
Dashcam footage shows Crosby exiting the vehicle with his cellphone in his hand.
“On the ground… on the ground… down on the ground… down on the ground…turn around,” the responding officers yelled. They forced him to the ground, and one punched him.
“I’m cooperating…sir, you’re on video… that’s an FYI,” Crosby said. He had a dashcam in his car recording what was happening, too.
Evanston Alderman Brian Miller was irate at the incident, and was instrumental in getting the footage released.
“I understand being a police officer is a tough job, but we need them to exercise judgment in their day to day operations,” Miller said. “And in this situation, within ten seconds of Mr. Crosby getting out of his car with his hands in the air, he was tackled, he was kneed while he was standing up, then he was punched repeatedly by multiple officers, for allegedly stealing his own car. Our police officers need to be better than that.”
Despite his compliance, Crosby was charged with resisting arrest and disobeying an officer. Those charges where thrown out.
The police involved have taken much criticism for their actions. Officers, though, contend they were working with the best information they had available. A witness had reported the car being stolen, and they responded accordingly.