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After video surfaces, Black Lives Matter protesters dispute Sarasota PD over arrest claims

Video released by Black Lives Matter Manasota shows Sarasota Police Department officers tasing him 700 block of Gore Court.[Facebook]
Video released by Black Lives Matter Manasota shows Sarasota Police Department officers tasing him 700 block of Gore Court.[Facebook]
Published Mar. 26, 2018

Black Lives Matter Manasota protesters are disputing the Sarasota Police Department's accounts of the arrest of a man they say attacked police officers last week.

The incident took place Thursday around 7 p.m. in the 1700 block of Gore Court where officers were arresting Chad Washington, 35, who had an outstanding warrant.

A department news release said officers were called to help Sarasota County Emergency Services with a man described as violent.

RELATED:Bradenton man in state of 'excited delirium' when he attacked officers

Police said Washington was under the influence of spice and in an "excited delirium" when he punched one of the officers. Officers said Washington was uncooperative, biting and kicking them. It took additional officers to subdue him, police said.

Investigators later said he had ecstasy on him at the time.

But Washington's fiance, Darnesha McMillan, backed by Black Lives Matter Manasota, disputed SPD's account of the incident, saying that she called emergency medical services because Washington was "vomiting and foaming out the mouth."

"When the cops showed up at my door. they knocked very soft then came in unannounced. Upon entering, the two officers (white male, black female) charged Washington to the floor. They began punching, choking and tasing him. It started from the kitchen and ended with him being pinned under the car as they continued excessive force and the use of the taser as he was asking for help," McMillian said in a Black Lives Matter Manasota news release.

She said Washington never attacked officers, and that they didn't know about the warrant until he was later discharged from Sarasota Memorial Hospital after being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

She said the officers were afraid of him since he was a black male, which led them to "brutalize and use excessive force" against him.

"The call had nothing to do with what the cops are trying to portray," McMillan said in the release. "They did this all while my children were standing there watching which is traumatizing and is causing my children fear of law enforcement"

Black Lives Matter Manasota released a video that shows part of the incident, where police can be seen tasing and wrestling with a man near a police car. Children and neighbors can also be seen and heard screaming and crying as the incident unfolds.

The incident sparked protests Sunday from Black Lives Matter Manasota and ANSWER Suncoast. Protesters chanted, held up signs and crossed North Washington Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Way with each traffic signal, the Bradenton Herald reported.

Ruth Beltran, a community organizer with ANSWER Suncoast, told the Herald that she was disturbed by the video.

"I kept thinking to myself, 'What is he expecting him to do?' The guy is swinging his hands on the floor. He's not hurting anybody. It's not like he can reach anybody," Beltran said. "I saw excessive force. I saw the use of excessive force against him. He was already on the ground."

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Black Lives Matter said SPD's narrative was "false" and that they demanded justice for Washington.

SPD spokeswoman Genevieve Judge told the Herald on Saturday that the video doesn't show the entire incident.

"The Sarasota Police Department was aware of the video," Judge told the Herald. "The video is not the entire incident and does not tell the whole story."

McMillan also told the Herald that police "tased him all the way out the door. They Tased him for like 15 minutes nonstop."

Judge told the Times that police are conducting an active internal affairs investigation into the arrest, and no officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino also released a statement Friday warning against the use of spice.

"We want this to serve as a reminder to our community that no one should take illegal drugs, including spice," the statement said. "Spice is a synthetic drug made in a laboratory that can cause individuals to be violent and disorientated. If you see someone acting this way, please call law enforcement immediately."

Washington faces three felony counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and possession of a controlled substance. He's being held in the Sarasota County Jail without bail.

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