By Micha Green
D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

A viral video showing D.C. Police punching a man and using excessive force has activists demanding justice, Washingtonians saying “enough is enough,” and three Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) members on suspension and under investigation.  

On Aug. 8 officers were filmed physically harming 23-year-old Kiman Johnson, while attempting to arrest him.  In the video, Johnson was already subdued by two officers, when one White male officer began punching the 23-year-old.  

According to D.C. Police, the arrest was made after officers reportedly witnessed, “a hand-to-hand drug transaction.” 

“Officers eventually stopped the individual and recovered a firearm,” a MPD press release explained.

MPD Chief Robert Contee said that the excessive force seen in the video goes against MPD’s protocol.

The actions demonstrated in the social media video of Metropolitan Police Department officers seizing a gun from a suspect are inconsistent with the training and the values of the department and this incident will be referred to the United State’s Attorney’s Office for prosecutorial consideration and subsequently thoroughly investigated by the MPD Internal Affairs Division.  Following this incident three MPD members have been revoked and placed on non-contact status pending criminal and administrative investigations,” Contee said in a statement.

The Chief of Police also weighed in on his feelings towards the video at a live press conference on Aug. 9.

“I am embarrassed, disturbed, disheartened and ashamed of what I’ve seen,” Contee said.

Activists contend that Contee, the Mayor and MPD at large will cover for the brutal actions of the officers.

“ backed the blue beating Black folks on BLM Plaza.  As usual the first line of attack will be to have Chief Contee attack the character and past of the victim.  They will paint him as worthy of being beaten for things that have NOTHING to do with probable cause.  The name and history of this cop will be protected more effectively by and than they protect people from violence in the neighborhoods (our neighborhood in this case) that they patrol,” Black Lives Matter D.C. tweeted.  “His social media presence is likely already being scrubbed right now.  We demand the immediate firing of this officer without pension and benefits.”  

“ can be no ‘compromise’ like that of the last week and we will accept no more performances by Bowser,” Black Lives Matter continued, referencing an amendment made to Bowser’s budget adding 170 new officers to the MPD.

Activists also expressed concern that the police brutality was not unique to the District’s police force.  Last September, 18-year-old Deon Kay was shot by an MPD officer, then 20-year-old Karon Hylton was killed after D.C. police aggressively followed him on a mo-ped in October 2020.

“Will this be the moment of reckoning for by the people of D.C.? Or are we going to continue to pretend these are isolated incidents of police brutality by a ‘few bad apples?’ The choice is ours,” Black Lives Matter wrote.

One Twitter user disagreed with the consistency of police brutality in the District and felt that the nation’s capital needed more police, while also ridding the force of bad officers.

“Actually it is an isolated incident.  Intolerable and absolutely wrong, but nonetheless rare for MPD. Not isolated: 11 or more shootings and three murders this past weekend. D.C. needs more police and bad cops must be eliminated.  Both can be accomplished,” one person wrote.

There were other social media users who supported the police’s decision to use excessive force.

“The guy had a gun.  I guess should just play patty cake, one social media user wrote.  “Too easy on criminals.”

For the most part, Washingtonians and those tuning in all over the Internet, are disturbed by the video.

“There’s no excuse for this.  No excuse,” one person tweeted before directly questioning the Mayor. “, are you going to hold accountable for this?”

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor