(NEW YORK) — A Black man whose arrest in Alabama earlier this month went viral on social media is speaking out amid an investigation into the local police department.
“I try to act OK but I am really traumatized. I don’t know how to feel about police now,” Micah Washington told ABC affiliate WBMA in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday.
Washington, 24, said he was on his way to pick up his brother on Dec. 2 when his tire “had a real bad blowout.” He said he was on the ground changing the tire when an officer approached him and demanded that he show her his ID.
“I was like, this is not a traffic stop, so why do you need my ID?” Washington said, adding that he gave it to her but continued to question why she needed it.
Cellphone video of the incident, which was obtained by ABC News, appears to show a female officer detaining Washington and using a stun gun on him as she holds Washington against a car.
After she shocks him, Washington begins to cry. She asks him, “You want it again?”
“No ma’am,” he said, according to the video.
Using expletives, the officer then tells him to shut up.
Washington’s attorney, Leroy Maxwell Jr., told ABC News on Thursday that Washington feared for his life during the arrest.
“The only thing that was going on in his mind was George Floyd, George Floyd, George Floyd,” Maxwell said. “Because at one point, [the officer] had her foot on his back while [he was lying] on the ground. And then he was having a hard time breathing. And he was yelling that, and that prompted his brother to start recording.”
The 45-second clip of the incident, which was filmed by Washington’s brother, doesn’t show what led to the arrest.
The Reform Police Department officer involved in Washington’s arrest was placed on administrative leave this week, according to a joint statement released by Reform Police Chief Richard Black and Reform Mayor Melody Davis.
The officer was not named but an arrest affidavit obtained by ABC News identifies her as Dana Elmore. ABC News’ requests for comment to the Reform Police Department were not immediately returned. ABC News’ attempts to reach Elmore directly were not successful.
According to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office booking records, Washington was arrested on five charges: obstructing governmental operations, resisting arrest, marijuana possession, drug trafficking and ex-felon in possession of a firearm. According to court documents, “ex-felon in possession of a firearm” is not listed.
“It looks like the DA’s office did not pursue that charge,” Maxwell said, claiming that his client is “not a felon.”
Related court records did not show any prior convictions for a felony. Court records also show that the drug trafficking charge against Washington was dismissed.
In a Dec. 4 motion obtained by ABC News, Andrew Hamlin, district attorney for the 24th Judicial Circuit, asked a judge to dismiss the drug trafficking charge, saying that Washington was charged with “trafficking in illegal drugs — fentanyl” but said that further testing “failed to yield a positive result for fentanyl.”
In a Dec. 5 response to the motion, District Judge Lance Bailey dismissed the drug trafficking charge and significantly reduced Washington’s bond from $500,000 to $5,000.
In an arrest affidavit, Elmore claims she found Washington in possession of seven grams of cocaine and fentanyl.
“The claim was that she pulled seven grams of cocaine laced in fentanyl out of his pocket and a gun, so that’s what they charged him with,” Maxwell said. “Once the video came out, all of a sudden, those charges get dismissed because the video clearly doesn’t show her pulling any drugs out of his pants.”
Maxwell said he plans to take legal action on behalf of his client.
“I just want justice,” Washington said, adding, “I would love an apology.”
Police Chief Black and Mayor Davis said in a joint statement that police are aware of the video of the incident, which occurred on Dec. 2, and have asked the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation to investigate.
“The department is in the process of turning over all materials related to this arrest to the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation and has requested a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest,” the statement said.
A spokesperson for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at the Alabama Bureau of Investigation confirmed to ABC News that the ALEA is investigating the incident.
“On Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the request of the Reform Police Department, Special Agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) launched an investigation into a situation involving an officer with the Reform Police Department. Nothing further is available as the investigation is ongoing,” the spokesperson said.
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