Sixty-three-year old Judah Adunbi was walking down the street near his home in the Easton area of Bristol, in the United Kingdom, when two local police officers apparently mistook him for someone they were “looking for,” as reported by The Guardian. After a verbal exchange and a scuffle, Mr. Adunbi, who is one of the founding members of an advisory group tasked with harmonizing relations between the “Afro-Caribbean community and the constabulary” in Bristol, fell to the ground as one of the police officers shouted “Taser, Taser, Taser,” several times, deployed her weapon, and the man wreathed in pain.
“I was just paralysed. I thought that was it. I thought they were taking my life,” Judah Adunbi was quoted.
Sometime after the verbal altercation began between Adunbi and the police, video footage was recorded by a neighbor, named Tom Cherry, which shows the man, who has a thick Caribbean accent and long dreadlocks, refusing to give his name and attempting to enter a gate, presumably to the yard of his home.
Mr. Adunbi is reported to have sat on the community involvement panel of the municipal Crown Prosecution Service, as well as the independent advisory group for Bristol. The Avon and Somerset Police are said to have referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission “voluntarily.” Body-cam footage from the Bristol officers is said to be available.
“Leave me alone,” Mr. Adunbi can seen telling the police.
“That was totally unnecessary,” the neighbor can be heard in video as Adunbi falls the ground from the shock of the Taser.
The male police officer told Cherry, who was filming the scene, that the 63-year-old was fighting them, after they had attempted to place him under arrest. The neighbor insisted that Mr. Adunbi did not fight the police officers and that it was them who first put their hands on him. Video would appear to back up Tom Cherry’s assertion.
After first refusing to provide his identity, lying on the ground after being Tasered, while one officer remained ready to shock him again and the other informed Mr. Adunbi that he was going to be handcuffed, the Bristol resident threw his wallet to the female officer, and encouraged her to check his identity.
After more residents began to gather, attracted by Mr. Adunbi’s exhortation that he was being murdered, some began to suggest to the officers that they may have made a mistake. The male police officer finally verbally placed the man under arrest once he and his partner had handcuffs securely fitted on both of his wrists. The charges against Adunbi have since been dropped.
Chief Superintendent Jon Reilly with the Avon and Somerset Police, responsible for policing in Bristol, told The Guardian that he had met with Mr. Adunbi and that the body camera footage captured by the officers was being examined in an effort to “understand what happened” and be as “open and transparent as possible.”
“At first, you don’t accuse someone of being someone else,” Mr. Adunbi stated. “You ask questions. The first thing they should have done is come to me in a polite manner. The way they approached me – they were accusing me. That is wrong.”
“We work really hard to work positively with all communities and I see no reason why that should change,” Superintendent Reilly stated.
The Avon and Somerset chief noted that the force is under no obligation to refer incidents involving the use of Tasers to the complaints commission. The Guardian cited research conducted by Liberty indicating that “black people are three times more likely to be Tasered than white people.” Cindy Butts, with IPCC, vowed that a “thorough investigation” will be conducted and encouraged any other witnesses or those in possession of further video footage to contact the force.
[Featured Image by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]