A video has gone viral on social media as of yesterday that has drawn a quick and measured response from the municipality, according to The Independent. The subject of the video, which was captured by a bystander, is Sean Williams. Williams, a 27-year-old black man, is shown sitting down on the curb, his arms outstretched and resting on his knees.
At this point, officers on scene repeatedly order Williams to stretch his legs out. He complies somewhat with their demands, extending them slightly. Following this, an officer tells Williams to cross his legs. Williams’ feet begin to move together.
Then, the officer deploys his taser, the charge hitting Williams in the back. Williams writhes in pain as those watching scream. The bystander criticizes the officer on the scene, in disbelief that the officer has just tased the suspect while Williams was, to all outward appearances, in the midst of compliance.
As Williams begins to recover from the shock, rolling over to gaze at the law enforcement officer that had just tased him, the officer repeats further demands for Williams to simply lie on his stomach, “arms out like an airplane”. Williams sluggishly complies as the video draws to a close.
Unarmed black man tasered by police while sitting on a curb pic.twitter.com/XNjz5TJbrY— The Independent (@Independent) June 29, 2018
After being shown the video as it began to go viral yesterday, Lancaster’s mayor Danene Sorace was less than impressed, saying that further investigation into the matter had made her upset, and that the video had only served to strengthen her commitment to ensuring that all officers in the City of Lancaster be equipped with functional body cameras.
“Like you, when I saw the video I was upset by it and it is of great concern to me,” Mayor Sorace said in her statement. “We take the use of force very seriously.”
The police department posted a response to the incident, indicating that they had been called to the site over complaints that Williams was wielding a bat, threatening members of the public in the immediate area. An officer not featured in the video, arriving before any video had been captured according to the report by local law enforcement, had already asked Williams to comply with detention orders and had been rebuffed. A second arrived and instructed Williams to sit curbside, which he did, that being captured by the bystander’s video.
“Non-compliance is often a precursor to someone that is preparing to flee or fight with Officers,” the police statement detailed.
Williams was given an evaluation by medical staff after he was tased, then was arrested on an outstanding criminal warrant on charges of public drunkenness and possession of a controlled substance. Following this, he was released on an unsecured $5,000 bail.
The video was originally posted to popular social media platform Facebook, where it had gathered over 115,000 views and 3,600 shares in the span of less than 24 hours.