SHERIFF: Deputy’s use of force during protest arrest was lawful, followed policy

Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner says one his deputy's acted lawfully and followed policy when he arrested a protester late last month. 
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Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner says one his deputy’s acted lawfully and followed policy when he arrested a protester late last month.

The arrest, one of several that occurred outside the Hall of Justice on May 31, was caught on camera from numerous angles by bystanders and media outlets including Channel 8 Eyewitness News, and prompted a use of force investigation by the agency.

In some of the videos, it appears the deputy pulls the woman protesting to the ground by her hair. Wagner said previously the arrest “looked bad” based on some of the video clips available at the time. In a press released issued Monday, he changed his tune.

“Shame on me,” Wagner said. “And shame on all of the people who watched the video, passed judgement on what they thought they saw, prompting emails and calls demanding the deputy be fired for his actions.”

Wagner released video Monday from an unmanned aerial system stationed on top of the Hall of Justice. That video, he says, shows “what really happened.”

Wagner says what was caught in the newly released video that wasn’t captured in others was the deputy telling several protesters to leave, and receiving a response of “F— you.” The deputy then told the woman she was under arrest and reached for her right shoulder before she turned away and the deputy tried to grab her left shoulder where her hair was, Wagner said.

That woman was never arrested nor did she go to the ground, Wagner said. At the same time, another woman was being arrested by other officers and fell to the ground where she was handcuffed.

“Unless the incident was viewed from another angle, you would not be able to tell the first woman was not pulled to the ground by her hair by the deputy,” Wagner said. “In fact, she did not face any consequences at all for violating the Mayor’s curfew.”

Wagner says arresting someone who is resisting “is not pretty,” and that quick, decisive action by officers is necessary to prevent injury.

“This isn’t like a game of tag, where the person tagged is told they are out, and walks over to a patrol vehicle to be transported to jail,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out how to tell our employees to be decisive in making arrests to limit injuries to arrestees and deputies, but don’t let it appear to be aggressive. If that Use of Force appeared aggressive, that’s on me.”




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