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Police Chief Decries 'Horrible' Use of Force on Black Man

Police officer Tyler Timberlake charged with assault after using stun gun on 'man in crisis'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Virginia police officer was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery Saturday after being accused of using excessive force on a black man. The Fort Hunt Herald reports the incident took place Friday around 1:30pm in Mount Vernon, where an apparently disoriented victim—described by the Fairfax County Police Department as "a man in crisis"—was wandering and pacing in the street, with police officers and paramedics trying to coax him into an ambulance. In the bodycam video, which can be seen here (warning, the footage is graphic), Tyler Timberlake shows up on the scene, approaches the man, and appears to use a Taser on him, placing his knees on the man's neck and back after he's fallen to the ground. Timberlake then appears to redeploy the stun gun on the man. As cops handcuff the man, referred to in the video as "Anthony," he repeatedly says, "I can't breathe."

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"The video erodes the public's trust of police officers," said Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr., adding that the use of force against the man was "horrible," per the Washington Post. "I've personally reached out to the victim and spoke with his mother to express my disgust with my officer's unacceptable, criminal actions." Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve T. Descano notes the importance of bodycams, saying that without them, "I fear we would have had an unfortunately narrow and somewhat distorted view of what happened." Timberlake and other officers at the scene have been relieved of duty pending investigations, police say. They add that the man in the video was taken to a nearby hospital, treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and released. Timberlake, meanwhile, could face up to 36 months behind bars if convicted. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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