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Two N.C. officers suspended over ‘disturbing’ video of Black man punched on the ground

Two Kinston, N.C., officers have been suspended over a viral video showing them punching a Black man on the ground. (Google Street View)

As a woman filmed through her car window, two police officers chased a Black man in a red hoodie across a street in Kinston, N.C., on Monday. After the man fell to the sidewalk, one officer appeared to pummel him repeatedly with his fists.

Now, the two officers have been suspended pending an investigation after video of the incident went viral. Kinston Police Chief Tim Dilday on Tuesday identified the officers involved as McKinley Jones and Kevin Page, the Free Press reported, and the man who was punched as 36-year-old David Lee Bruton Jr.

The video, which was shot and uploaded to Facebook by the bystander, sparked outcry among local advocates and politicians.

“The video that you saw, that I saw and that members of the community have seen, the response has been the same, it is very disturbing,” Kinston Mayor Pro Tem Felicia Solomon said Tuesday, the Free Press reported.

The violent encounter came as jurors in Minnesota hear evidence in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck last May and is accused of killing him. On Sunday, a Minneapolis-area police shooting that killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, further inflamed tensions in the city and across the United States, sparking new rounds of protests.

KPD👮‍♂️Kinston Police Department I guess beating someone is the new way of detaining a person

Posted by Ebony Marie Boyd on Monday, April 12, 2021

According to police, Jones and McKinley responded to a 911 call from a woman who said Bruton had threatened her around 6 p.m. on Monday. A police report said Bruton threatened to “slap” the woman, the Free Press reported. When police located Bruton, he attempted to run away, police said. Then, he tripped and fell to the ground.

The officers quickly moved to detain Bruton as he lay on the ground. According to the police, Bruton kicked one officer in the stomach. The video shows a short scuffle between the three men in which the officers throw several punches before arresting Bruton.

After the video went viral Monday, politicians and members of the community of 21,000 in the eastern part of the state raised concerns about how police handled the arrest. Some argued pepper spray or a Taser would have been more appropriate tools to deploy during the arrest. Others suggested violence could have been avoided entirely.

Barbara Sutton, president of the Lenoir County chapter of the NAACP, told WRAL-TV she has gotten dozens of calls about the video and said she was “very, very disturbed and very outraged.”

Solomon added to the Free Press: “It is very concerning, which is why we can’t afford nor do we desire to afford to ignore what we saw.”

Bruton’s mother, Cynthia Bruton, told the Free Press that her son did not sustain any serious injuries and demanded “consequences” for the officers who punched him.

“We are really grateful to God that he is alive,” she said. “Because he could’ve been one of those taken out by police but he was not. Just looking at the video last night, one would have thought he was beaten to a pulp, but as far as we know, he’s OK. We still have not seen him.”

Bruton was booked on charges of intimidation, simple assault and disorderly conduct, the Free Press reported. His bond is set at $500.