"Who trains these guys?"
Capping off a terrible week of police brutality caught on video, a 21-second clip posted to Instagram Friday night shows a Calgary cop pushing an old guy to the ground, pulling his hair and punching him repeatedly in the head while two more cops hold the man down.
To nobody's surprise, the cops have released a statement insisting on a version of events that has at least one person who watched it happen calling bullshit.
According to one witness who spoke to the CBC, the old guy was honking his horn and yelling at a pedestrian who had cut him off. The man got out of his truck, and police started yelling at him to "get the fuck back in your truck."
"This old guy starts walking, the cop is walking right behind him yelling at him the whole time," the witness told CBC. "They get 10 steps in and I guess maybe the old guy stopped or something so the cop grabbed him. Next thing I know the three of them are laying the boots to the 60-year-old guy on the side of the road."
Calgary police have called the incident an "arrest" instead of, say, a "beat down." A Saturday press release said the cops were responding to a road rage incident involving a pedestrian, and the "aggressive" man got out of his car and "refused police requests to provide information about his identity."
"This video only captures a small portion of the interaction between the man and the officers and does not tell the full story," reads the release. Same could be said of the police statement itself, which does not mention punching, hair pulling or any use of force.
Chris Schneider, criminology prof at Brandon University and author of Policing and Social Media, told VICE the "police said, witness said" fallout from a social media post follows a familiar pattern. He said public trust in police narrative is eroding because of an ever-increasing number of videos like these.
"Prior to the development of social media, police were the primary knowers and definers of crime," Schneider told VICE. He said social media videos, like the shocking ones of police shooting black men in the United States last week, let the public decide for themselves what's really going on.
"Police services are struggling to gain control of the crime narrative," he said.
Judging by the angry comments posted below the video, most people are calling this one a case of brutality. "I don't see that guy taking a swing at the cop at all," writes one commenter. "It looks like the cop puts his hand up to the guy and he pushes it away, which sets the cop off... So much excessive force was used it's ridiculous. I don't see how there is even an argument."
"I really don't understand how a cop, grabbing a dude by the hair and punching him in the head, while his two bros hold him down, is taking anything out of context," wrote another.
Other commenters say the officers "did what was necessary, forcing him to surrender."
In the eyes of the the witness who spoke with CBC, police definitely crossed a line. "He shouldn't have gotten out of his car, absolutely, and he should not have been yelling, absolutely but that doesn't mean you get beat up by a cop."
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