Outrage Over The Violent Arrest Of Le’Keian Woods Spreads After Video Is Released
Following the release of a video depicting at least three Jacksonville, Florida police officers holding 24-year-old Le’Keian Woods down near a car, the man’s family is calling for the officers to be held accountable.
In the footage, Woods has a bloody face, swollen eyes, and a cut on his lip. As the video made the rounds on social media, outrage spread as the view count rose, and the Woods family retained civil rights attorney Harry Daniels to represent them.
Daniels released a statement condemning the actions of the officers, saying, “If this video of the officers repeatedly assaulting Le’Keian, slamming his head in the ground and tossing him around like a ragdoll while he’s handcuffed and defenseless isn’t enough to convince you that these officers need to be off the street, just look at Le’Keian’s face. He looks like he just went 12 rounds with a professional boxer.”
A bystander captured a HORRIFIC video of Jacksonville Sheriffs officers detaining a swollen, bloodied, and handcuffed 24-yo Le’Keian Woods. This community and his family deserve a thorough investigation into this encounter that landed Woods in the hospital! pic.twitter.com/5SmWLvqtvC
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 2, 2023
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said in a press conference that the force used by his officers was appropriate even though it looked alarming. “There was force used by arresting officers, and yes, that force is ugly. But the reality is that all force, all violence is ugly,” Waters said.
“But just because force is ugly does not mean it is unlawful or contrary to [agency] policy.” Waters then said that the officers remain on the street, “where they belong.”
In response to Waters’ assertion, Daniels told ABC News: “It’s unfortunate that the sheriff believes the beating of an unarmed man is justified,” adding, “It is obvious that he is complicit and an enabler of clear misconduct by his officers. It is not surprising that [the sheriff’s office] didn’t find any misconduct, because they investigate themselves.”
The incident once again draws attention to the fact that Black people’s negative experiences with law enforcement begin with a traffic stop. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences set forth that, over 577 routine traffic stops, the first few minutes of a stop dictates how the encounter will go. Essentially, if an officer opens up the encounter by issuing orders instead of explaining the reason for the stop, then the officer is going to escalate or make the encounter worse for the person who has been stopped.
The group that conducted the study also analyzed the first 27 seconds of George Floyd‘s encounter with the police in Minneapolis and found that even though Floyd was compliant, he only received commands and not answers to his questions. Jennifer Eberhardt, a social psychologist at Stanford University, told NPR, “We analyzed the first 27 seconds of Floyd’s encounter with police on that day. And we found that Floyd apologizes to the officers who stand outside his car window, Floyd requests the reason for the stop, he pleads, he explains, he follows orders, he expresses fear. Yet every response to Floyd is an order.”
In the one-month study, the town that the group studied found that officers pulled over Black drivers 577 times but only pulled white drivers over 262 times, underscoring the racial disparities in how Black people are policed.