Family and friends of 22-year-old Tyree Carroll, who was seen on video being beaten by multiple police officers in Germantown, staged a rally on Friday in front of police headquarters to call for justice.
The gathering follows the city’s police department opening an internal affairs investigation into the episode. The new scrutiny was prompted by a YouTube video of the beating captured by a neighbor.
“He had on his mind I’m sure, and we all had on our minds when we saw it, Eric Garner and the chokehold and ‘I can’t breathe,'” said activist Phoebe Jones, who was joined by attorneys for Carroll and members of Carroll’s family. She referred to the death of a New York City man at the hands of police.
Carroll’s advocates contend he was stopped for riding his bike the wrong way on a one-way street. Tensions escalated from there, they said.
But police say he was questioned on the suspicion of drug use, then began fighting with a plainclothes officer who stopped Carroll around 11:44 p.m on East Locust Avenue. The officer claims Carroll bit him three times during the altercation.
Police said 5.3 grams of crack cocaine were recovered from Carroll.
What began with just a handful of officers quickly morphed into more than a dozen flocking around him, some of them yelling obscenities.
As one officer approached a restrained Carroll, the officer said “here comes the Taser,” but police maintain that a stun gun was not deployed.
Defense attorney Michael Wiseman said Carroll has a “nasty-looking boil on his head” and other injuries. But none are life-threatening.
“You get the feeling, and I got that feeling looking at the paperwork, that they basically rousted this young man for no good reason,” Wiseman said. “The beating ensued, the injuries ensued. I assume they know they were on video at some point. I don’t think it takes a huge leap to believe that the police may have been trying protect themselves once they realized that this wasn’t an unwitnessed event.”
At one point on the video, Carroll can be heard calling for his grandmother, Nancy. She attended the Friday rally, saying it’s probably for the best that she didn’t hear his pleas.
“Had I heard him, I would’ve gotten someone to take me outside,” said Nancy Carroll. “But maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t go outside, because I’d be in jail along with him.”
Carroll’s sister-in-law Kia-Marie Benton said it’s episodes like this that are souring perceptions of law enforcement.
“How can we feel protected when we know at the end of the day we can’t even go to ya’ll for domestic violence situation, because ya’ll will look at it like, ‘Um, oh well,'” Benton said. “And ya’ll … can abuse people and get away with that?”
Carroll is now in county jail and facing charges including simple assault, aggravated assault and drug possession.