Philadelphia police have launched an internal investigation into the beating of an unarmed black man by officers in April.
Tyree Carroll, 22, faces assault and drug-related charges stemming from the April 3 incident, which transpired after police saw him riding the wrong way down a one-way street on his bicycle and stopped him, according to police. Carroll was found to have 5.3 grams of crack cocaine on him, police said, but video shot by a bystander provides a shocking look at the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
The footage opens with Carroll pinned to the ground by three officers. His bike is on the ground, and he is screaming for his grandmother, who lives nearby. The three officers struggle with the young man for about 45 seconds before one of them begins punching him.
The situation escalates as other officers arrive on the scene. At least one of them can be heard threatening to use a Taser on Carroll.
Some officers can be heard cursing at Carroll, calling him a "piece of s**t" and a "motherf*****r" while others repeatedly strike him. One of the officers yells that Carroll bit him. In a jailhouse interview with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, Carroll admitted to biting the officer, but said he did it because he was scared and having trouble breathing. The organization did not immediately return request for comment by The Huffington Post.
In a statement Thursday, the Philadelphia police said officers stopped Carroll on suspicion of a narcotics violation and that he fought the officers, biting one of them three times in the thigh, hand and arm. Once Carroll was in custody, he "intentionally [struck] his own head against the protective shield located in the police vehicle" and was treated for his injury at an area hospital, according to the statement.
The statement acknowledges that additional police responded to the scene, but did not say how many.
Jasmyne Cannick, a Los Angeles-based blogger, published the video on her site Wednesday after Carroll's family sent it to her. The video was shot by an unidentified woman who witnessed the scene, and Cannick said the only reason the footage didn't surface sooner is because the woman didn't know how to get in touch with Carroll's family.
In a phone interview with HuffPost on Thursday, Cannick said that the cops' demeaning of Carroll denotes a profound lack of respect.
"You can't justify calling someone a 'piece of s**t' while you're beating them," Cannick said. "It doesn't matter if he had all the crack in the world. It doesn't warrant that response."
From behind the camera, the woman shooting the video counts 24 police officers at the scene, and says police used a Taser on Carroll "four or five times." Due to the close angle and poor lighting of the video, that information is difficult to verify.
In a statement Thursday, the Philadelphia police said there was "no indication that an electronic control weapon was used" during Carroll's arrest, despite officers in the video alluding to a Taser.
In the video, at least half a dozen officers can be seen responding before Carroll is handcuffed and incapacitated. Many more officers continue to show up afterward.
The Philadelphia Daily News reports that the Philadelphia Police Department learned of the video shortly after it was posted, and has responded by opening an internal affairs investigation. Cannick says she doubts the police would have done anything if the family hadn't come forward with the video.
"This happened in April, and the police never opened their mouth, and probably wouldn't have opened their mouth about it until this video came out," Cannick told HuffPost.
Police said use of force reports were completed at the time of the incident.
Carroll remains in jail because the April arrest violated his probation on a 2014 drug possession plea. He's scheduled to appear in court July 21.
This story has been updated throughout with a statement from the Philadelphia police.