On June 1, 2020, the Beaumont Police Department was made aware of a video being circulated on social media involving police officers at Parkdale Mall. The 29 second video depicted a few moments of an incident that lasted more than half of an hour.
On the evening of Saturday, February 22, 2020, multiple Beaumont Police Officers were dispatched to Parkdale Mall in reference to 20 or more juveniles fighting in the parking lot. Officers arrived and found a large group of people in the parking lot, with a single peace officer who had called for assistance. The on-scene officer pointed out one female who had been fighting, as she walked away across the parking lot. Beaumont officers called out to and began to approach the juvenile who was walking away. As officers approached and tried to handcuff her, a 17 year old male, who was wearing a yellow sweatshirt, yelled and reached out in an attempt to interfere with the arrest. That male was told that he was under arrest. The male then resisted the officers, who were able to push him to the ground to try to gain control of him. Once on the ground, he was rolled onto his stomach, and one officer applied pressure to the male’s upper back and neck with his knee, to hold him while he was being handcuffed. The officer did not place his full weight on the suspect.
During this stressful ordeal, no one was injured, and the disturbance was resolved quickly due to the actions of the officers. After reviewing all audio and video evidence available, including body-camera footage, I support the actions of the officers. This officer was attempting to use this method of control in accordance with the policy and rules of the Beaumont Police Department. Despite averaging more than 6,000 arrests per year, we have never had a major issue with the technique. Officers are trained to only use the amount of force necessary to make an arrest. The suspect was immediately stood up, removed to a safe location, and placed in a patrol vehicle in accordance with officers’ training in the prevention of positional asphyxia.
The young man told the officer that he was only trying to protect his younger sister. After some conversation, he indicated that he had made a mistake and apologized to the officer for his actions. The officer noted his good attitude, and ultimately, decided to release him without filing any criminal charges.
It is sad that these officers did nothing wrong, but are now getting death threats. It is disconcerting that people in the community are making derogatory and disparaging remarks toward the officers after seeing a seconds-long video. I believe that Beaumont Police Officers are doing an excellent job during extremely difficult circumstances, and I am proud of the work that our officers do despite what some civic leaders say about issues that they know very little about.
The Beaumont Police Department has been very fortunate to be able to establish and maintain excellent relationships with the Beaumont Chapter of the NAACP, the 100 Black Men of Greater Beaumont, and other community leaders. During the past few weeks, we have been in close contact with these organizations. We stand together and are very troubled by the horrible death of George Floyd. I have been asked to consider changing our handcuffing techniques to eliminate placing pressure on the heads and necks of arrestees. After careful consideration, I have decided the Beaumont Police Department will not teach or condone techniques that involve the intentional use of knees on an arrestee’s head or neck as a contact point.
We will continue to strive to serve our citizens with integrity, fairness, and respect.
Chief James P. Singletary