The footage is shocking — a police officer violently shoving a man in a wheelchair — but, in a testament to the truly bizarre nature of the encounter, it may not be a clear-cut case of police brutality.
On Oct. 1, 2013, Lt. Tom Davidson knocked over a wheelchair-bound man outside a Lafayette, Indiana adult education center and on Tuesday, nine months later, the Lafayette Police Department released dash cam video of the incident.
Police were at the scene in October because the man in the wheelchair, 25-year-old Nicholas Kincade, had told security at the adult education center that he had a gun in his backpack, WLFI-TV reported.
Police searched Kincade’s backpack and found not a gun but a pocketknife, so they issued him a trespassing warning and told him to leave.
Dash cam footage shows what happened next.
As he begins to leave, Kincade rolls over the foot of Davidson, prompting the officer to shove the man out of his wheelchair.
“Whoa, what the, the [expletive]?” Kincade yells as he falls.
“You did not drive over me you [expletive],” Davidson says. “Now you’re going to jail. Now you’re going to jail.”
“I didn’t see you,” Kincade protests, to which an officer responds, “Oh my god, right.”
A review board later determined that Davidson had acted inappropriately and could have removed himself from the path of Kincade’s wheelchair.
“Police officers cannot put themselves in a position where the subsequent need to use force is created,” Police Chief Patrick Flannelly told WLFI-TV. “We can’t do that.”
Whether Kincade meant to run over Davidson’s foot or whether, as he claims in the video, it was an accident remains an open question.
The civilian review board initially voted that Davidson should be fired, though on an appeal they reconsidered and lessened his punishment to a demotion and a 30-day unpaid suspension.
“[Davidson] made his mistake,” said Flanelly. “He’s received the punishment. We’ve spoken. The merit board has spoken. The process is done. At this point we move forward.”
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