Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are conducting an internal investigation after officers arrested the wrong man at an Applebee’s restaurant in July, but then charged him with resisting arrest, police said Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Wednesday.
When a hit-and-run occurred on a nearby freeway around 11 p.m. local time on July 20, witnesses told law enforcement that two black men and a woman with a child fled the scene on foot toward an Applebee’s drain.
Officers intent on arresting her instead confronted another black man, woman and baby who were sitting with Applebee and forcibly handcuffed the man. Meanwhile, the people the police were actually looking for were later found in the restaurant’s bathroom.
However, authorities charged both the man and woman sitting in the restaurant with disorderly conduct and with resisting and obstructing an officer. An additional charge of possession of marijuana was filed against the woman.
A bystander video of the incident made the rounds on social media after a Facebook user posted it on August 4. “Kenosha has been doing very shady things lately and [they’re] I’m trying to cover this up,” the user wrote.
In bystander footage, the interrupted diner could be heard protesting: “I don’t do shit! Let the fuck go of me!” as police cornered him next to a table. He held the crying baby as officers tried to snatch it from him. One officer grabbed the baby and two others grabbed it. As the man lay face down on the ground, one officer repeatedly hit him near or on the head while the other held the man’s hands behind his back.
The woman can be heard calling for her child in the background of the video, but was not caught on video.
“Where the hell is my child?” she called. The baby’s crying can be heard in the background throughout the video.
“The man was arrested while the accident was being investigated. The man tried to walk away [officers’] orders and was held back. He resisted and the incident caught on camera happened from there,” police said Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Kenosha Police Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Kenosha activists have condemned the charges and arrest. A group called the “Leaders of Kenosha” held a press conference Wednesday urging community members to contact their elected officials on the matter.
“It just didn’t seem like the police officers were exercising good judgment,” said Tanya McLean, executive director and founder of the organization at the press conference. “We want to know why cops in this town don’t show respect to parishioners. What makes you feel like you need to be so overly aggressive? So confrontational?”
“Just a complete lack of consideration for people who don’t look like you and don’t wear that uniform. What are you scared of right now? Because we know that people who are afraid act irrationally,” McLean continued.
Kenosha’s leaders did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. The Kenosha Mayor’s Office declined HuffPost’s request for comment.