Body cam video taken by a Blytheville, Arkansas police officer shows police dragging a young black man from his car, tasing and pepper spraying him. His alleged crime? Playing loud music as he sat in his vehicle outside a convenience store.
Patrick Newbern was in the parking lot of Lucky’s Convenience Store in Blytheville on Easter Sunday when police responded to a call about someone playing loud music. The video shows an officer enter the parking lot in his police vehicle. He then gets out and begins to walk around the parked cars. There is music coming from somewhere. As the officer approaches the passenger side of Newbern’s car, the music becomes louder, then suddenly stops.
The officer asks Newbern for his ID, then tells him to not go anywhere. He walks back to his car and gets his ticket book, then calls to Newbern, telling him that he is going to write a citation for the loud music. Newbern starts to drive away, but when the officer jumps in his car to follow, Newbern stops. The officer gets out and says to another officer, “Get his ass out of the car.”
Now up to this point it is plain that Newbern was in the wrong. He was playing his music very loudly in violation of a posted sign informing the store’s customers of the local noise ordinance. He started to drive away, then apparently thought better of it and stopped. (Newbern claims that there was a problem with the brakes on his car.) But what ensued from this point on was completely outside the bounds of proper police behavior, particularly in dealing with someone who was about to be cited for a noise violation.
The officer gets back out of his vehicle and goes around to the driver’s side of Newbern’s car, where his colleague is ordering Newbern to get out. When they feel that Newbern is too slow to comply, the officers drag him from his car and take him to the ground. At some point one of them produces a taser and uses it on Newbern. The officer wearing the body cam pepper sprays Newbern in the face. A small crowd gathers as the officers attempt to put Newbern in handcuffs, telling him to “stop resisting.”
Newbern replies, “I ain’t resisting, bro.” One of the bystanders tries to speak up, telling the officers that Newbern isn’t resisting them. The officer wearing the body cam responds by waving his pepper spray in the direction of the group.
Tony Hollis, president of the Mississippi County chapter of the NAACP said, “As soon as I saw the video, it made me sick to my stomach.” Hollis is calling for the officer involved to be disciplined.
This is yet another example of police overreacting to a minor situation. They knew who Newbern was — the officer called him by name. They had his license number. Should Newbern have tried to exit the parking lot after speaking with the officer? No. Did a citation for violating a noise ordinance warrant the treatment that Newbern received? Definitely not.
Newbern wasn’t a violent, wanted felon. He hadn’t even been stopped for something as minor as a speeding ticket. He was playing his music too loudly in a parking lot. The police could have even theoretically mailed his citation to him. Let’s be clear. The video strongly suggests that Patrick Newbern was in the wrong. But there’s no way to justify what police did to him over the most minor of violations.
Here’s the officer’s body cam video. You be the judge. Were these officers out of line?
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