Video Shows Cop Punching Protester During Anti–Police Brutality Protest

Multiple videos taken during Saturday’s demonstration over a Black homeless man’s death show a Wilkinsburg police officer punching a protester.

Apr 18 2022, 5:45pm

A Pennsylvania police officer was caught on video punching a protester in the face during a demonstration against the very same sort of police violence.

The officer, who has not yet been named by police, can be seen arguing with protesters about their right to demonstrate in Wilkinsburg, a city just outside Pittsburgh, on April 16, according to video of the incident posted to YouTube. The camera then briefly strays away from the tense back-and-forth before showing the officer swinging at one of the protesters, who falls to the ground and screams. The moment was also captured by Pittsburgh City Paper photographer Jared Wickerham.

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In the YouTube video, the person is seen pulling at the officer’s shirt briefly before he swings.

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That day, protesters were rallying in Wilkinsburg to demand police officers be fired and held accountable for the fate of 54-year-old Jim Rogers, a Black, homeless man who died after being tased at least nine times in police custody, according to a federal lawsuit filed by his family against the city of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh police, and paramedics. 

Rogers was arrested under the suspicion that he stole a bike last October and asked for medical attention several times while sitting in the back of a police car, according to local news station Action News 4. Rogers was eventually taken to a local hospital but suffered a medical emergency before being admitted. He died a day later.

In another video posted to Twitter by Wickerham, officers can be heard asking the demonstrators to move from an intersection where they stopped to hear from Rogers’ niece, Diamond Rogers. When Diamond began to speak at the rally, one of the many Wilkinsburg Police Department officers present told the group through a loudspeaker that they were assembling illegally and that they would have to leave the area, Pittsburgh City Paper reported.

At least three protesters, frustrated that officers interrupted the grieving family member, walked over and confronted the officer who was sitting in a patrol car, according to the video.

“Listen to me: They are tearing a building down,” the officer is heard saying in the video as he points to what appears to be a construction site in the distance.

“Fuck you, let her fucking speak,” one of the demonstrators responds. “Y’all already fucking murdered her uncle.”

The officer—whose last name is Taylor, according to the City Paper—eventually gets out of the car and tells them again that they can’t be in the middle of the street. One of the protestors tells the officer that it’s their right to demonstrate.

In the YouTube video of this part of the demonstration, the arguing continues after the protesters first walk over to the officer. 

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“Get out of my fucking kid’s face,” the protester can be heard saying in the video as she extends an arm between them. When officers grab that protester’s wrist, a third individual steps in to intervene. For the next 10 seconds, the person continues to stand between the officers and the women, and even puts their hands on the officer to create distance between them.

Right after this moment, the officer swings at the person, who falls to the ground. In the chaos, another officer standing nearby with a police dog in a muzzle approached the person on the ground. 

At least two people were arrested, including the person who was punched, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Another video posted to social media by Wickerham shows the protester who was punched lying facedown on the ground in handcuffs and bleeding. 

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Wilkinsburg Police Chief Ophelia Coleman did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment or clarification regarding arrests. It’s also unclear if the officer who threw the punch has faced any disciplinary action. 

“We are not interested in engaging with the police or various municipalities’ narratives of dividing so-called good protesters from so-called bad ones,” an organization called Justice For Jim Rogers said in a statement to press over the weekend. “Anyone on the ground at the march today, who has to experience the police attack us, or are now viewing it through its being shared on the press or social media can see clearly that those who wield violence are the police.”

The officers involved in Rogers’ arrest and subsequent death were suspended with pay shortly after the incident. The department also retrained officers on the use of tasers and overhauled its use of force policy. In January, the Allegheny County medical examiner concluded that Rogers’ died from a lack of oxygen to the brain, ruling that his death was accidental. The ruling outraged the family, according to a spokesperson on their behalf.

“We think it needs to be a homicide, an intentional act on the count of the city of Pittsburgh police bureau and those officers who were there that day," family spokesperson Devon Adwoa said at the time, according to Action News 4.

Last month, five of the eight officers involved in Rogers’ arrest were fired after a lengthy internal police investigation in the man’s death. Police have not publicized the names of the officers who were terminated from the job.

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Tagged:

video, Punch, police brutality, Pittsburgh, homeless, Wilkingsburg

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