Cell phone footage of a man being arrested in Austin, Texas, on the Fourth of July has gone viral with many decrying how police officers handled their suspect. The video depicts 45 seconds of police trying to cuff the man now identified as 23-year-old Justin Grant as he lies on the sidewalk and as a woman now identified as Alexandria Michelle Green yells at the police that “he didn’t do anything.” On Friday, Justin filled in some details surrounding the video, and police weighed in on things from their perspective.
Grant spoke to the Austin American-Statesman and said that when he was grabbed from behind, he didn’t realize it was police officers. He added that they didn’t give him an opportunity to say anything before they started punching him. Police have charged that they became aggressive with him because he reached for a knife, but Grant denies that charge. He described his experience as “Completely barbaric. Completely just out of control” and wondered, “How do you hit someone who is not doing anything, who is not resisting?” He says that he didn’t know whose fists he saw coming at his face repeatedly.
Police explained Friday what led up to the events shown in the viral video. They say they received a call from employees of a bar in downtown Austin called Rain, who said that a man who appeared to be drunk or under the influence of drugs had threatened them with a knife.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley explained Thursday that when officers arrived, Grant was arguing with a woman and they tried to detain him, according to KGNS-TV. He reported that Grant tried to reach for a six-inch knife he had in his waistband and for a taser gun on one of the officers while they were trying to cuff him and one of the officers began punching him in the neck and head. The police department’s policy allows for punching a suspect who is armed with a deadly weapon. Officers also report finding meth on Grant.
This is the mugshot of Justin Grant, armed man seen in viral @Austin_Police arrest video. @chief_manley says he reached for officer’s taser while they were trying to arrest him. The incident is under administrative review. They’re asking for witnesses to come forward. @KVUE pic.twitter.com/2NuoZRGqpe— Pattrik Perez KVUE (@PattrikPerez) July 5, 2018
Grant admitted that he had a knife on him but says he works as a mover and never threatened anyone with it. He did not comment on the alleged possession of meth.
The nature of the relationship between Grant and the woman in the video, Alexandria Michelle Green, has not been made public.
While both Manley and Grant are thankful for the cell phone footage, Chief Manley cautioned against jumping to judgement without the whole story.
“I think it’s important that we focus on the whole story, there was a lot that happened prior to the video that’s been displayed in the public right now, so we need to make sure that when we’re making a judgment on these that we are taking all of that in to account.”
Manley stated that, unfortunately, the body camera on one of the police officers involved in the incident was knocked off and the other one was not working, so the only video they have is the one that’s gone viral on social media. He says that the Austin Police Department is conducting an internal review and asked that anyone with additional video and anyone else who witnessed the scene to contact police.
You can view the video in full below.
Last night I was out with some friends in Austin and witnessed police brutality first hand for the first time. It’s a different feeling when you see it on tv or all over the internet than when you actually witness it happening no less than 10 feet in front of you. @Austin_Police pic.twitter.com/MEXc1l5OtS— Patty (@YingYangPK) July 4, 2018