D.C. police said they are reviewing an incident in which an officer is seen on cellphone video using both hands to shove a man during a heated exchange outside an apartment complex in Anacostia on Tuesday.
The video, which shows a portion of the encounter in the 1600 block of W Street SE, was posted on Twitter by the group Black Lives Matter, which described the arrests of the man and three others as “violent” and evidence of improper policing.
Dustin Sternbeck, chief spokesman for the police department, said investigators are reviewing the social media posts and the body camera footage from several officers. That review was not complete by Wednesday afternoon.
Police said the officers, members of a Crime Suppression Team working in an area designated for increased enforcement over the summer, were investigating an unoccupied BMW sedan. Officers were looking into the passenger side when three people approached, stood close and impeded their inquiry, according to an arrest affidavit written by the lead officer and filed in D.C. Superior Court.
Police said a small crowd grew unruly and several refused orders to move back. The affidavit says one man shouted vulgar language, waved a cellphone close to an officer’s face and then “took an aggressive fighting stance, balled his fists and advanced toward” the officer. The affidavit says the officer “extended his arms in the direction” of the man to create space, and then arrested him.
The portion of the video posted online shows an officer arguing face-to-face with a man. At one point, the officer swats the phone out of the man’s hands and points his finger at him.
The video from the activist group does not appear to show the man advancing or assuming an aggressive fighting stance. The man’s arms appear to be by his side throughout the portion of the exchange shown in the video, but his fists are not visible. The video shows the officer putting two hands on the man’s upper chest, pushing him backward.
Three men and one women were charged with various misdemeanor offenses including simple assault. Two were charged with assaulting police officers. All were released and ordered to appear in court June 5.