The videotaped arrest of an Alabama man whose leg was repeatedly stomped by an officer is indicative of a police department that does not know how to safely interact with the mentally ill, the man’s lawyer said Wednesday, reports NBC News.
Attorney Martin Weinberg represents 22-year-old Kemontae Hobbs, the Black man whose forceful arrest on Sunday at the hands of Huntsville police inside a convenience store was captured by a bystander and posted on Facebook Live. Hobbs is disabled because he suffers from schizophrenia, Weinberg said Wednesday.
The 90-second video shows an officer struggling on the ground with Hobbs. It is unclear what happened prior to the video being recorded.
Two other officers then arrive to assist with the arrest. One of those officers then stomps on Hobbs’ right leg five times while yelling, “Stop. Stop resisting. Stop resisting. Stop resisting. Stop.”
Weinberg said his client’s case can be summed up by knowns and unknowns.
“We know there is a problem in Huntsville with excessive force and dealing with mentally ill individuals,” said Weinberg, who represents the families of other mentally ill clients suing Huntsville police after their loved ones died during interactions with officers.
He added: “We don’t know enough at this point. We don’t know if they tried to de-escalate. … We don’t know the exact name of the officers (involved). We don’t know their history, in terms of complaints they had. … We don’t have a lot of faith they’re going to discipline this officer. We’re waiting to see. We’re asking they deal with that swiftly and fairly.”
In a statement released Tuesday, department officials said Hobbs’ arrest is under review. Hobbs was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing government operations. Officers were initially called to the convenience store by an employee, police said.
“After an officer arrived on scene and made contact with the suspect, the individual was non-compliant. The officer called for backup. An altercation with police subsequently occurred” the statement said.