The police chief of Sugar Creek, a Kansas City suburb, is defending his officers after harrowing bodycam footage was released on Tuesday showing two officers break a man's car window, drag him to the ground and kneel on his neck as they arrest him.
Sugar Creek Police Chief Chris Soule told The Kansas City Star that his officers "did what they were trained to do" when they began beating and hogtying Aaron Fletcher on Monday.
"I understand where they think it looks like excessive force," Soule later told Kansas City's Fox4 News. "But we only use the force necessary to gain compliance."
At around 10 a.m. on Monday, Fletcher went to Sugar Creek City Hall to ask for a police officer's personnel file but was refused because he did not go through the proper channels before the request. The police were called, but Fletcher was allowed to leave on his own. According to a press release from the police department, it was after Fletcher had gone that officers ran his name and realized he had six outstanding warrants for traffic violations as well as a revoked license.
Police began to chase Fletcher in his SUV for about five blocks before he pulled over to the side of the road near a neighbor's house, asking them to film the interaction. The video, which was shared to Facebook, and the bodycam footage from the arresting officer show Fletcher sitting in the driver's seat with his hands up as police arrive.
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Officers approached the car with their guns raised, even as Fletcher screamed that he was unarmed and had his hands in the air. Police holstered their weapons, pulled out a baton and broke Fletcher's driver side window before pulling him out of the car and throwing him to the ground. As one officer beats Fletcher with a stick, the other put his knee on his neck and begins to handcuff him.
"Officers are trained on the baton. They are trained to hit nerve spots. It was in a soft spot of the leg, which is a nerve that will help gain compliance," Soule told Kansas City news outlet KSHB.
Fletcher was almost hogtied and eventually was dragged into the back of a police car. Police Chief Soule, who can be seen in the video, tried to stop Fletcher's neighbors from filming the beating and forced them to go back into their house.
Fletcher's sister, Patrice Philips, told Fox4 News that she cried after watching the footage and said he did not deserve to be beaten like that.
"If he was breaking the law, pull him over, take him to jail, let him have his day in court. But he shouldn't have had to go to the hospital before he went anywhere," she told the local news outlet on Tuesday.
Police charged Fletcher with driving while revoked, eluding the police, resisting arrest and failure to obey a lawful order. According to local news outlets, Fletcher had been arrested three times since December on different charges. On Tuesday evening, he posted the $4,000 bond required for his release, and his 20-year-old daughter Akeya told KSHB that she hopes he moves away from the town.
"You didn't have to put your hands on him. Don't hit him with the stick. We've seen that," she said.
"It did not take two of you guys basically pushing each other around trying to get him out of the car."
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