Video of Allentown officer kneeling on man sparks protests

This story originally appeared on NBC10.

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A video of an Allentown police officer kneeling on a man, apparently on his head or neck, has sparked outrage in the Lehigh Valley city.

The video, about 40 seconds long, shows three police officers trying to restrain a man who is on his stomach while outside a hospital. Two of the officers appear to be kneeling on or near the man’s legs, while a third kneels near his head as all three try to hold his arms behind his back while trying to handcuff him as he screams out.

At one point the officer near the man’s head apparently drives his elbow into the man’s neck or head before shifting his bodyweight and briefly repeating the action, this time with his knee. The three officers continue to try to handcuff the man.

“They had that man on the ground and he was screaming for his life,” said Kay, who shot the cellphone video as she drove by the St. Luke’s Hospital-Sacred Heart on Saturday. She asked that NBC10 use only her first name.

“The knee – definitely that was a huge shocker, especially after all this going on,” Kay said.

Allentown recently made public its use of force policy, which bans chokeholds or neck restraints unless officers are preventing “imminent death or bodily injury” to themselves or members of the public.

The incident has received scrutiny after the death of George Floyd, who died in May after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death was captured on video and sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Kay’s video ends as another woman, seemingly a nurse, asks her to “keep going” because Kay’s stopped car is “blocking the street.”

“I was shocked. I was disturbed,” Kay told NBC10. She said she complied after the woman told her to leave because she had to go pick up her son.

It’s unclear what happened before or after the video or why police were restraining the man.

Various protesters in Allentown took to the streets Saturday night, demanding answers from the city’s mayor, Ray O’Connell, and Police Chief Glenn Granitz.

O’Connell called the video “disturbing,” but said, “I think we need to gather all the facts and information before we go forward,” the Allentown Morning Call reported.

Bill Lake, the Allentown Police Department’s assistant chief, said the department was “looking into” the incident, as it does with all use of force cases.

Police have not said if the man has been charged with a crime.

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