Protesters call out officers’ use of force during controversial traffic stop in Hartford

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A group gathered outside the Hartford Police Department on Tuesday to protest a controversial arrest.

On Monday, a woman was arrested in an incident that stemmed from the report of a stolen car that was involved in a shooting.

The incident happened on Blue Hills Avenue.

The woman told police the car was hers, but the situation escalated and police forcibly removed her from the vehicle.

“There is one point in some of the video footage where it appears an officer has his knee on the woman,” police said in a statement. “However, based on an initial review of the video footage, he does not. It appears he has his knee over hovering over her head area, which he then moves.”

“I can’t breathe,” she can be heard saying in a video. “She cannot breathe! She can’t breathe…There’s no female officer…Listen, there are no female officers. Just tell me where the female officers are.”

The body camera footage is being used in the use of force investigation. However, activists said the use of force was unwarranted.

“When I looked at that video, the knee was clearly on the head,” said community activist, Cornell Lewis. “Now, they are saying, ‘No, it was slightly above the head.’ Well, there was nobody there with a piece of paper to put between the head and the knee, so it looked like it was that to me.”

“No one can tell me that that is okay,” said another activist, Mike Oretade. “Not a single person. It does not take three officers to restrain this woman. We need social workers out here because these officers don’t understand Black trauma. They don’t understand what it’s doing to us when we see people dying on the street; when we’re hearing these stories of people dying with knees on their neck [George Floyd], with knees on their back, shots in their back.”

Bystander video shows in less than 30 seconds after being handcuffed, she is sitting upright on the ground, against the front tire of the police cruiser. The officers back up to give her her room, and she tried to stand up and walk off.

“Sit down and stay still,” an officer said. “Get off of me!”

Officers grabbed onto her and walked her over to the cruiser.

Police said the woman did not sustain any injuries, and she was taken to the hospital for evaluation. She was arrested for interfering with police and reckless endangerment.

Police still have not said if the car was stolen.

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