An officer was captured on video punching a woman in the head several times as she was restrained and surrounded by numerous other officers, who were all responding to her mental health crisis.
Round Lake Beach Police Department officers in Illinois were responding to the woman's mental health crisis on Saturday, according to the Daily Herald.
Angela Heath posted videos of the incident to her Facebook page over the weekend.
In the first video, a woman is surrounded by nearly a dozen officers and fire rescue personnel as she's restrained on a gurney. Even more fire rescue personnel are walking toward the scene. “Look at how many people there are,” Heath comments as she zooms in on the scene.
At one point, an officer, who is standing by the woman's head, punches the woman three times in her head. “They just punched her in the face!” Heath says from behind the camera.
“Hey, what the fuck!” Heath screams, walking closer to the scene. “I got that video, bro.”
The officer in question steps away from the woman for a few seconds as Heath yells at him.
“Are you serious now? This officer right here just punched her in the face!” Heath says, pointing at him.
The officer says something that is inaudible in the video, but according to the Herald, he was telling Heath that the woman bit him in the leg.
“I don’t give a shit. You have a gun and a taser!” Heath screams. “Look at her. She was just screaming, and now she’s knocked out.”
In another video, Heath is further confronting the officer.
"Did you tape the part where she bit me in the leg?" he says in the second video. "See the bite mark?"
Round Lake Beach Police Department later issued a press release acknowledging that the incident is “shocking to see” but stated that the officer's actions were within the department's policy.
The statement alleges that the officer punched the woman to get her to release her bite. It further states the department is "committed to ensuring that an external review of the incident takes place."
The video was eventually reposted to Twitter, where it went even more viral and opened a discussion on the potential dangers of calling the police on someone in need of mental health assistance. According to the Washington Post, which keeps a database of fatal police shootings, 22% of people who were fatally shot by police since 2015 were suffering from a mental health crisis at the time.
The Herald reports that community members showed up to the Round Lake Beach Police Department to demand that the officer in question be removed from active duty.
"We want him to be disciplined. It would show to this community that this type of behavior is unacceptable," Julie Contreras, a pastor and local community leader, told the Herald. "He knew it was a 911 distress call for a mentally unstable individual who wanted to kill herself, yet he felt it was OK to hit her."
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H/T Daily Herald