VPD Issues Statement on Feb 8 Incident
On Friday, June 19, 2020, The City of Valdosta was notified by the Valdosta Daily Times (“VDT”) about a lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department (“VPD”) and the City regarding an incident that occurred in February, 2020. According to the VDT, the plaintiff’s attorney delivered the lawsuit along with video shortly after filing it on Friday. The City Attorney was served with a copy of the lawsuit on Monday, June 22, 2020. The city has not had time to review the document and therefore cannot comment on the content of the suit.
On February 8, 2020, the VPD was dispatched to the Walgreens at 2815 North Ashley Street in reference to a report of a male outside the business harassing customers, screaming loudly, and asking customers for money. The subject was reported to be an African American male wearing a brown hoodie and blue pants.
As two VPD Officers arrived on scene, they began to search the area independently of each other. A customer approached the second responding officer and identified a subject matching the description of the 911 call. The first responding officer began checking the Walgreens parking lot and located a male subject behind the Walgreens building. While first officer was running the identification provided by the subject, it was learned that he had active felony arrest warrants. This police band communication between the first officer and dispatch was overheard by other officers arriving at the location.
At approximately same time, the second responding officer, on the opposite side of the store, located the subject walking in a southern direction away from Walgreens. The officer made contact with the subject explaining to him that he was investigating a report of a suspicious person at Walgreens. The subject was wearing a brown hoodie and blue pants.
Minutes later, another officer responded to the scene after hearing information over the police band and observed the second officer questioning the subject. The responding officer believed this individual was the subject of the 911 call and was the individual with felony warrants based on his observations of the subject’s interaction with the second officer. The responding officer approached the subject and advised him to place his hands behind his back. The subject did not and began to resist by pulling his arms forward and tensing his body. At this point, the responding officer used a physical control technique to place the subject on the ground so handcuffs could be applied. This procedure involves the officer going the ground with the subject. During handcuffing, the responding officer noticed that in the fall to ground, the subject appeared to have sustained an injury to his wrist. Upon recognition of the injury, the responding officer and other officers immediately removed the handcuffs, rolled the subject over and notified the dispatcher to send EMS.
While the subject was being taking out of the handcuffs, the responding officer learned that while the individual was the subject of the 911 dispatch, he was not the subject with the felony warrants. Upon learning this, the responding officer notified his supervisor of the incident.
EMS arrived to evaluate the subject’s injuries but he declined medical treatment and stated that he wished to leave. The subject was then released from the scene and began to walk South on Ashley Street.
The City of Valdosta is fully committed to transparency. To achieve that goal, the VPD has released the full body camera footage of the responding officer which can be viewed on the city’s website. The City of Valdosta and the Valdosta Police Department takes any report of any injury to a citizen seriously. Although there was no complaint filed with VPD, Once the shift supervisor was notified it prompted the review process of the incident by the Officer’s Supervisor, Patrol Bureau Commander, Internal Affairs Division and Chief of Police.