A Clayton County deputy was placed on administrative leave after a viral video surfaced on social media that appears to show him repeatedly punching a man while he yelled, “I can’t breathe!”
According to a statement from Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, his department launched an internal investigation Friday evening into the deputy’s use of force after his office was made aware of the video.
Social Media Video Involving Use Of Force By Sheriff's Deputy Now Under Investigation By Internal Affairs. https://t.co/sTJcGaoozt
— SheriffVictorHill (@SheriffVHill) September 12, 2020
Hill said in a news release that the deputy, whose name was not released, has been placed on leave without pay pending the outcome of that investigation.
Details surrounding the arrest are unclear, but footage captured by at least two bystanders appears to show two deputies on top of the man following a traffic stop.
In one of the videos, a deputy is seen repeatedly striking the man on the ground while the other attempts to place him in handcuffs. It appears the two deputies are white and the man they detained is Black.
The Black man can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” and “I’m about to die”.
The video was originally shared on Facebook by a woman who said the man being punched is her cousin, Channel 2 Action News reported.
She said her cousin and his girlfriend were passengers in a Lyft ride-share that was stopped for not having a taillight, the news station reported. During the stop, deputies asked to see the man’s driver’s license even though he was not the one behind the wheel, she said.
“So this happened today to my cousin the was in lyft or wateva and the man tail light was out the police stopped them the man didn’t have his License my cousin and his girl was in the car they ask him for his he said y are yal asking me for mines I’m not driving they told him to get out the car and this what happened,” the witness said.
The man appears to be bleeding from his face and appeared to lose consciousness as deputies roll the man over and handcuff him. The deputy seen throwing punches in the video can be heard telling witnesses the man bit his hand.
It is unclear if the alleged biting incident was a result of him being suffocated by the two deputies. The footage clearly shows one of the deputies placing his hand over the man’s face, shortly before he lost consciousness.
Sherrilyn Ifill, the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, tweeted: “The Georgia Bureau of Investigation must immediately take over the investigation of the terrible beating of a Lyft passenger in front of his child by officers of the Clayton County Sheriff’s office. Lyft you should demand answers for this treatment of one of your customers.”
The @GBI_GA must immediately take over the investigation of the terrible beating of a @lyft passenger in front of his child by ofcrs of the Clayton County Sheriff’s office. @lyft you should demand answers for this treatment of one of your customers.
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) September 12, 2020
The Georgia NAACP released the following statement regarding this incident:
“We have been made aware of video that surfaced via social media, involving a Black male who was brutally beaten by two white male police officers in front of his family. We call on Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill to release Roderick Walker immediately and for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct a thorough and independent investigation. We are currently meeting with the family to come up with legal support and next steps for community action.”