WATCH: Outrage Grows Over Forceful Arrest of Woman in Wisconsin

Jun 23, 2016

Wisconsin – A viral video of the forceful arrest of a young black woman Tuesday outside East Towne Mall sparked outrage from Madison’s black community and has local leaders and elected officials calling for a review of whether police officers used excessive force.

Genele Laird, 18, was arrested outside the mall after she allegedly displayed a knife and threatened to kill security staff after she said her cellphone had been stolen.

Video taken by a person outside the mall shows Laird resisting police as they try to handcuff her. Two officers then forcefully take her to the ground, where she continues to struggle and kick her legs and allegedly spits in an officer’s face.

The officer strikes her several times with his knee and fist before using a Taser to get her to comply with demands to put her hands behind her back.

Dozens of leaders from Madison’s black community joined the Young Gifted & Black Coalition for a protest Wednesday outside the Dane County Public Safety Building, where they collectively condemned the officers’ efforts to control Laird.

“Here is a 120-pound kid, 18 years old,” said Caliph Muab’El, executive director of Breaking Barriers Mentoring Inc. “She was thrown to the ground, bag put over her head, punched, kicked and Tased … If that isn’t excessive force, I don’t know what is.”

At an early afternoon news conference Wednesday, Police Chief Mike Koval said he met with several people close to Laird on Tuesday night and said they were “moved to tears, to anger” by what he acknowledged “looks like a very one-sided transaction.” But he defended his officers’ actions, saying one bystander’s short video can’t capture the context of the “15-minute narrative” of alleged threats by Laird that led to police being called.

Koval said Laird threatened a fast-food employee in the mall’s food court who she believed stole her phone. Laird allegedly displayed a knife and didn’t cooperate with the mall’s private security officers, prompting a call to police.

“The charge … at that point was disorderly conduct while armed,” Koval said. “If things had gone according to Hoyle at that point and she had gone with the program and surrendered her liberty at that point, at the officers’ request, none of the other things that occurred would have been transpiring.”

“At the end of the day when called to deal with a behavior … it is our obligation to restore order. That’s what we do,” Koval said. “When you … spit in the eye of a police officer, that’s a felony. When you resist arrest and you cause soft tissue injury to an officer, that’s a felony.”

Koval declined to immediately name the officers involved, saying the 911 center had received death threats against them. They will be named, he said, but for the moment he said he wanted to provide them with “sanctuary and a cooling off period.”

Video of the arrest, which had been viewed online more than a million times by Wednesday night, shows one officer holding Laird on a sidewalk shortly after the incident inside the mall. A second officer approaches in an attempt to get Laird’s hands behind her back for cuffing, at which point Laird yells out that the officers are being “so (expletive) forceful, for no (expletive) reason.”

A struggle ensues as at least one officer repeatedly yells commands to “get on the ground.” One of the officers strikes Laird several times with a knee to the abdomen before all three fall to the sidewalk.

The struggle continues on the ground with one officer yelling at Laird, “Stop kicking me,” while he delivers three more knees and a punch to the abdomen.

Laird then rolls onto her back as one of the officers continues to try to restrain her hands. The other officer then removes a Taser from his belt and delivers at least one shock to Laird’s abdomen. He holds the device to her left leg, but it’s unclear if it continued to fire.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Madison Police Officer Chris Masterson said Tasers only work when two probes make contact with the skin, completing a circuit and creating an electric shock. In Tuesday’s arrest, Masterson said, only one of the probes hit Laird, which is why the officer was seen repeatedly pressing the device against her leg to complete the circuit.

Just before Laird is shocked, one of the officers can be seen holding one of Laird’s hands behind her back and struggling to pull her other hand behind her. Laird shrieks as the other officer repeatedly yells, “Put your hand behind your back. Do it now,” and the struggle stops briefly as she is handcuffed.

Asked what Laird, who was on the ground and being kneeled on, could have done differently to comply with officers’ demands, Koval said: “Stop resisting.”

In video of the arrest, Laird briefly pops up again, at which point the officer with the Taser pushes her head back down to the pavement and yells, “Keep your face down. Don’t spit at me again.”

Laird responds to the officer, “I will bite you. I will (expletive) bite you.” The officer threatens to use the Taser again if she bites him, and Laird responds, “Let me go. I can’t (expletive) breathe.”

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Courtesy: Daniel Patrykus

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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