A street video in Westport of Kansas City police officers breaking up a fight between women is stoking wide debate online over the force an officer used in the fight.
The fight, caught on a cellphone, happened after midnight Sunday morning. At the point the video starts, an officer holding one of three women lets go of her to step toward another woman who is being held by another officer.
The approaching officer is seen swinging his arm downward forcefully in the area of the other woman, who then falls to the pavement.
The point of contact is obscured by a third woman, who is being held by a man.
Many people reacting to the video see the officer as slapping the woman and knocking her to the ground.
Others note that it appears the woman had a grip of the hair of the woman held by the man and that the officer’s swing is breaking that grip. The woman whose hair had possibly been held then raises up her head, possibly as if freed. And the woman who was hit falls because the break of her grip causes her to lose her balance.
“Did that cop really just smack that girl?!” one person posts on the Facebook comments.
“All he did was break her grip,” writes another, “and she threw herself on the ground.”
And from there the debate rages on, among more than 1,300 comments and 2,700 shares by late Sunday afternoon.
“She was already being detained when she was PUNCHED by a cop,” read one typical response. “She was no threat to him yet he felt like it was necessary to run over there (and) punch her.”
No, came a typical retort, “if you watch the video closely he went up and smacker her (because) she wouldn’t let go of the other girl. . . I’m not saying he was right but he didn’t punch her nor was it in the face.”
Kansas City police spokesman Lionel Colon in a written statement said preliminary examination of the video shows that an officer was slapping downward forcefully to get the woman to release her grip. Then the combination of the strike and the loss of her grip caused her to fall.
“Some of the methods officers train in include strikes to release grasps of objects or other people,” Colon said. “In this case as in all cases that involve force to bring situations under control, a thorough review . . . will take place.”
The Westport entertainment district recently increased its security on weekends after the Kansas City Council voted to allow the district to privatize some of its sidewalks.
This weekend’s visitors passed through security checkpoints with metal detectors that are set up between 11 p.m. and and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The woman who captured the video and posted it on Facebook, who asked not to be named, provided The Star a second video that was taken by another woman from a different angle.
It also shows the officer throwing a hard strike, but like the other video, it is unclear where the officer’s hand contacts the woman.
“From what I saw it looked like he struck her,” the woman who took the first video said. “I was standing right next to it.”