Richmond Police are taking some heat after a controversial video showing some of its officers in a physical altercation with a man goes viral. It all went down at this weekend's Shamrock the Block festival in Shockoe Bottom.
The YouTube video has Richmonders debating whether or not the cops used excessive force.
NBC12 tracked down the man involved in that scuffle. He's at the center of the controversy.
The video has been called alarming and dangerous. Things get ugly. Punches are thrown on both sides. At one point, Jason Dotson is seen on top of an officer; at another he's in a choke hold.
Dotson tells NBC12 he might not have handled this situation 100% correctly, but believes he also didn't do anything that deserved this level of physical response.
Dotson explains he was at Tiki Bob's and only had one beer when people told him his brother across the street in handcuffs because he was involved in a fight. He walked over there to see his brother on the ground and the person he was allegedly fighting just standing with an officer. He said he asked that officer why that was the case and that's when everything escalated.
The 22-year-old was taken to the hospital to get stitches. He, his brother and another person were charged with public drunkenness.
The video has divided Richmonders. Some support the officers in a chaotic environment; others say those cops abused their power. We took the question to Richmond Police leaders.
We asked Major Scott Booth is if he prepared to say at this point whether or not there was excessive force used. Booth replied, "No, not at all. We can't say that."
An internal investigation will include interviews with the officers, witnesses and people arrested. Police say they have to consider the circumstances.
Booth also couldn't say why his officer responded in this manner.
"We saw just this one small piece from the video and once we get further into the investigation maybe at some point we can pass judgment," he added.
It is interesting to note, while one person was charged with obstruction of justice, none of the four people involved in this fight has been charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.
Our legal analyst tells us given the circumstances it appears the officers acted appropriately.
The officers involved are still on regular duty. Police say there is no timeline for this investigation.
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