An internal investigation is underway and Kenosha activists are speaking out after a video shared to social media appears to show a Kenosha police officer repeatedly striking a man the officer wrongly thought was involved in a serious hit-and-run crash.
Police would later find their suspects inside a bathroom of a restaurant.
The incident took place July 20 at the Applebee's off Highway 50 in Kenosha. A crash happened at Highway 50 and Green Bay Road at about 11 p.m.
Police said witnesses described two Black males and one Black female who fled on foot toward Applebee's. Another witness stated that the female was carrying a child, according to police.
An employee at the restaurant said some "suspicious people" were inside the restaurant and they believed may be "involved," according to police. The employee then directed officers to two people, including the man seen being arrested in the video, who is Black and holding a baby.
"I'm not doing s---! Let me the f--- go!" the man yelled out as officers attempt to take the baby from him and take him into custody. The baby is eventually removed from the man's arms and officers throw the man down to his stomach. A moment later, an officer appears to begin striking the man on or near his head, yelling commands of "Put your hands behind your back!"
Police said, "The male was being detained as the crash was being investigated. The male attempted to leave against officers orders and was restrained. He resisted and the incident that was caught on camera unfolded from there."
The man, according to police, was not responsible for the hit-and-run. However, police said he has been charged with disorderly conduct, resisting, and obstructing an officer. The female who was with him also received the same charges, and possession of marijuana.
Police then discovered the "individuals responsible for the hit-and-run" inside the bathroom of the Applebee's, police said in a statement.
A group of Kenosha advocates and activists held a press conference Wednesday night. It was organized by Leaders of Kenosha, a nonprofit that describes itself as "a conduit for social, transformative, and restorative justice," according to its website.
Tanya McLean, executive director of Leaders of Kenosha, said "it's ridiculous" that the man was charged and the officers should be ones facing charges. She said there was a complete lack of de-escalation from officers. "It just doesn't seem that anyone was a voice of reason that had a uniform on," she said.
"A complete lack of disregard for people that don't look like you, that don't have that uniform on," she said. "What is it that just frightens you? Because we know that when people are fearful they act in irrational ways. So what is that you are so afraid of?"
McLean mentioned the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020 as an example of officers acting through fear.
"We don't want to stand here and have these conversations about people being harmed when they're simply having a meal with their family," McLean said.
McLean said the man is from Illinois and he was there to have a meal and got up to change his baby's diaper. "I'm not an attorney, but if you're not under arrest, you can walk away, they didn't know who these people were," she said.
Alex Whitaker of the Kenosha Coalition for Dismantling Racism called for a "thorough and transparent" investigation into the incident. Kenosha police said the department will conduct an internal investigation on the officer's use of force. Whitaker requested a third-party investigation as well.
Drake Bentley can be reached at DBentley1@gannett.com.
Amazing, isn't it, how the police stop beating the innocent man once they realize that they're being filmed? KPD has repeatedly demonstrated that it has major problems in its contacts with the community that it supposedly "protects."