Chesterfield police, NAACP release unified video in response to excessive-force complaint

Chesterfield police, NAACP release unified video in response to excessive-force complaint
In the video, the Chesterfield County Police Chief and President of the NAACP say they "are committed to advancing safety, equity and justice in our community." (Source: Chesterfield County Police Chief Facebook)
James Monk says he was traumatized by the situation. (Source: NBC12)
James Monk says he was traumatized by the situation. (Source: NBC12)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Thousands of people have watched a video of the Chesterfield County Police Chief and President of the Chesterfield NAACP in response to a complaint of excessive force in a traffic stop.

In the body-camera footage, which was shown to NBC12, James Monk is seen being stopped for having illegally-tinted windows in March. The video shows the traffic stop quickly escalate, but police claim it is not their practice to publicly release the video.

The video shows Monk being told to step out of his car because the officers smelled marijuana. At this point in the footage, Monk says he was nervous and acted in response to that; police say he was resisting arrest.

When Monk asked the officers why and what was going on, the traffic stop ended with Monk being pepper sprayed twice and stunned once.

Monk maintains he did nothing wrong and no drugs were found.

Following the incident, Tavorise Marks with the Chesterfield NAACP legal redress committee held a press conference on Monk's behalf, demanding changes in the community.

But, in the video posted Wednesday, Chesterfield Police Chief Col. Jeffrey S. Katz and the President of the Chesterfield NAACP L.J. McCoy - who had not seen the video - made a statement about being unified, and said "recently, some within the NAACP have sought to leverage the relationship we've built over the years," and that people have played fast and loose with facts.

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO HERE:

"We are not an organization to use a family for publicity and we would like to believe that we respond to the complaints, but we can't solve everyone's problems," said McCoy.

McCoy feels the issue did not "rise to the level of a press conference."

"The individual had an infraction, law enforcement made a stop and there was no permanent physical damage, nor was it a fatality," said McCoy.

When asked if he would watch the video, McCoy said he would, but noted that the Chesterfield NAACP handled situations "more extensive" than the situation involving Monk. McCoy says he has extensively read about the situation, as well as watched news coverage about it.

McCoy says he tried to encourage Marks not to do the press conference because of the open-door policy between the police department and NAACP. In 2015, McCoy says their organization began a push for police officers in Chesterfield to wear body worn cameras.

"If I'm being dishonest and misleading the truth and facts, then release the video," said Marks. "There's no need for 'he said, she said.' Release the video, that's all I'm asking."

Marks feels the video was made to directly address his actions. He says members of the NAACP statewide, are "disheartened," by the video made by Col. Katz and the Chesterfield NAACP president.

"It sought out to discredit me, but it's never been about me. It's been about Mr. Monk. It's been about the lack of transparency of the police department," said Marks.

In a May press conference, Marks read a list of demands, in light of the excessive force complaint:

  • Employ a policy to allow the release of body cam footage through Freedom of Information Act.
  • Requests that immediate disciplinary action be taken on the officers who receiving re-training as a result of the incident
  • Asking the Board of Supervisors and Police Department to create a community review board with three citizens, as well as one active duty law enforcement and one retired, to review any complaints within the community that involve excessive force.

Following the traffic stop incident, Chesterfield police completed an internal investigation that identified policy violations. The officers involved had to be retrained on the use of stun guns.

Although the department is not releasing more information on the violations, Col. Katz released an additional statement on the incident:

"Many of Mr. Marks' assertions are objectively false representations of reality. We have shown him and any other interested party - including members of the media - the BWC footage of this encounter. If Mr. Marks wants to talk about legitimacy and transparency, he needs to look inward.

The statement also included a breakdown of Marks' statement, with Col. Katz' analysis:

  • “Mr. Marks’ statement claims: The officer then requested that Mr. Monk exit the vehicle to be detained, when questioned by Mr. Monk as to why… the officer stated that the “vehicle smells like weed”
  • The video shows: The officer asked Mr. Monk to exit the vehicle. Mr. Monk exited the vehicle. At that point, the officer asked Mr. Monk to face the vehicle and told him he was being detained. Mr. Monk became uncooperative with officers. As he struggled, he asked why he was being detained and an officer told him that he smelled “like weed.”
     
  • Mr. Marks’ statement claims: Once out of the vehicle, Mr. Monk stated that he does not smoke at all and that there is no weed in the vehicle. During this interaction Mr. Monk continued to try to ask questions before he was manhandled and thrown to the ground.
  • The video shows: Mr. Monk was immediately uncooperative with officers when they attempted to detain him. He was taken to the ground by officers as he continued to resist attempts to handcuff him.
     
  • Mr. Marks’ statement claims: Mr. Monk did not resist at all during this interaction
  • The video shows: For a period of approximately 3 minutes and 14 seconds, Mr. Monk resists officers’ attempts to handcuff him and refuses to follow officer commands to get on his stomach.
     
  • Mr. Marks’ statement claims: Over eight officers were at the scene
  • The video shows: During the struggle, four officers were on scene. More officers arrived after Mr. Monk was in handcuffs.
     
  • Mr. Marks’ statement claims: During this entire encounter, Mr. Monk is on the ground, on his back, begging for the police to stop the pending assault
  • The video shows: Mr. Monk is not on the ground during the entire encounter. He is taken to the ground after he resists officers’ attempts to handcuff him. Once on the ground, he continues to resist attempts to handcuff him.
     
  • Mr. Marks’ Statement claims: At the 7:15 mark of the video, Mr. Monk is tased (he is tased over three times during this encounter)
  • The video shows: Mr. Monk was not tased at that point in the encounter.
     
  • Mr. Mark’s statement claims: At the 8:15 mark of the video Mr. Monk is pepper sprayed (he is pepper sprayed several times while on his back on the ground… once at close range)
  • The video shows: He was pepper sprayed once at about the 8:15 mark and again at about the 9:30 mark. He is pepper sprayed twice during the encounter.
     
  • Mr. Mark’s statement claims: At the 9:45 mark of the video Mr. Monk is surrounded by at least three officers and violently punched/jabbed four times by the officer on top of him (Mr. Monk never fights back)
  • The video shows: As officers attempted to turn Mr. Monk onto his stomach in an attempt to handcuff him, one officer struck Mr. Monk four times in his torso in an attempt to distract him so officers could get his hands behind his back to handcuff him. These distractionary strikes had no effect.
  • The video shows: At about the 10:35 mark, a taser was deployed and Mr. Monk was tased once. Mr. Monk immediately turned onto his stomach and put his hands behind his back. At about the 10:48 mark, Mr. Monk was handcuffed and was taken into custody without further incident or use of force.
     
  • Mr. Marks’ statement claims: The taser prongs were never removed from James after being deployed even though that is department policy.
  • The video shows: The officers chose to wait for rescue personnel to remove the prongs, as they had never deployed their taser or removed prongs from a suspect before. Once on scene, rescue personnel said they didn’t know how to remove the prongs, so the officers removed the prongs.
     
  • Also, Mr. Marks’ statement claims: “This information has been withheld from the public and Mr. James Monk.”
  • Until the police department was contacted by Mr. Marks, there had been no inquiry by anyone, including Mr. Monk, about this incident. As soon as we were contacted by Mr. Marks, we agreed to meet with him at his convenience to review the body-worn camera video and discuss the incident.

Again, the body-camera footage is available for public viewing upon police request.

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