Police Investigate After Video Shows Officer Kneeling on Man’s Neck in Pennsylvania

July 13, 2020 Updated: July 13, 2020

Police in Allentown, Pennsylvania, are investigating after an officer appeared to place his knee on the neck of a person during an incident, which was captured on video, drawing comparisons to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Allentown Police Department, in a statement on Sunday, said it is conducting a use-of-force investigation. Footage of the incident posted on Twitter shows three officers on top of a screaming man.

Before the arrest, officers saw the man “vomiting and staggering in the street” before he stopped at a hospital emergency room, the statement said. The man then started to scream, yell, and spit at the officers and hospital staff.

As officials tried to restrain the man, he “continued to be noncompliant,” the police department wrote, adding that officers had to restrain him. He was then taken into the hospital for treatment before he was treated and released.

The Lehigh County District Attorney will now investigate and review whether the officers used force in an appropriate manner during the incident.

The police statement doesn’t mention the allegation of an officer placing his knee on the individual’s neck.

Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, posted the video on social media and claimed it was similar to “exactly what led to (Floyd’s) death.” He said the officer should be identified, adding that officers allegedly “held down this man’s face to the pavement and then one of its officers placed their knee on his neck.”

The clip shared by Crump was only about 14 seconds long. It isn’t clear how long the officer kept his knee on the man’s neck.

The Allentown Police Department’s website says that “use of neck restraints or similar weaponless control techniques (choke holds) is prohibited” by officers.

Floyd, who is black, died in police custody on May 25 when former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes. Chauvin was later arrested on second-degree murder charges, while three other officers who were seen in the video footage were fired and charged with aiding and abetting.

Fired Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin
Fired Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. (Courtesy of Darnella Frazier/Facebook)

Floyd’s death triggered widespread Black Lives Matter protests, riots, acts of arson, and looting incidents across Minneapolis and other cities. Activists then used the demonstrations to rally to “defund” or “abolish the police.”

According to the Allentown Morning Call, protesters marched into downtown Allentown and made demands to the mayor and police chief about the video.

Mayor Ray O’Connell, a Democrat, called the video “disturbing” and added that “I think we need to gather all the facts and information before we go forward,” according to the Morning Call.

The Allentown Police Department has not responded to requests for comment.