A naked black Harvard University student was forced to the ground and repeatedly punched in the stomach by a policeman while other officers struggled to restrain the student, video taken by a bystander shows.
Officers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, responded Friday night after receiving seven emergency calls about a man acting erratically, The Washington Post reported. They encountered Selorm Ohene, 24, who had disrobed and allegedly taken an unknown drug, a woman friend of the young man told police.
The officers’ handling of the incident has caused controversy in the community, with Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern terming what is shown on the video “disturbing.
In the video, which was released by police, Ohene is seen talking to three officers. As he turns his back to one of them, the officer tackles him. Ohene can be seen flailing as officers try to hold him down and one of them begins to strike him.
Ohene was punched five times, according to a police report. He was charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault. The extent of his injuries was not immediately clear.
“Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter, but it must be true in practice as well,” McGovern said in a statement. “Policing is Cambridge is far ahead of many communities across the country, and yet we can always strive to do better.”
McGovern has called for an investigation into the incident.
Ohene’s lawyers said in a statement that the incident “continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family.”
“The video speaks for itself,” the lawyers said. “At this time, our focus is on Selorm’s health and well-being.”
Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville Bard Jr. cautioned against a rush to judgment against his officers. “If anyone ever had to constrain an individual against their will, they will know it’s a very difficult thing to do,” he said.