On April 8, Officer Zachary Rosen of the Columbus Police Department in Ohio stomped the head of a young black man into a sidewalk, according to video footage of the event that was uploaded last week.
The video was filmed just two weeks after Rosen eluded criminal charges for fatally shooting a 23-year-old black man.
As seen in the video, DeMarco Anderson is lying flat on the ground and in the process of having his hands cuffed behind his back when Rosen runs up and kicks him in the head. Seconds before the blow, Anderson can be heard asking, “Why are you being aggressive, sir?” as an officer kneels on top of him. After his head hits the pavement, Anderson says, “Are you serious? I got cuffs on, sir,” as three additional officers surround him. Moments later, he is escorted to a police vehicle.
According to local reports, police were called on Anderson after he fired a gunshot at a house close to the scene of the arrest.
Columbus police say that force was unwarranted in this situation and are currently investigating Rosen’s actions. Rosen has been taken off of patrol duty indefinitely.
“Based on what we’ve [seen] in the video taken on Saturday April 8, 2017, the action taken by one of our officers does not meet the standards by the Columbus Division of Police,” the department said in a statement this week. “It appears to be inconsistent with the values and training we instill in our officers. The officer self-reported a kick to the suspect while the suspect was in custody. We’ll learn more as the investigation continues and take appropriate actions based on the facts gathered.”
In late March, just two weeks before the video was shot, a grand jury declined to indict Rosen and a second officer for the fatal shooting of Henry Green, a 23-year-old black man, in 2016. The grand jury decided that lethal force was justified against Green, who reportedly fired his gun at the officers. Witness accounts varied, but several agreed that the officers were in plainclothes and did not identify themselves as police at the time. There was also dispute as to who fired first — the officers or Green.
“It is unfortunate that it takes video evidence to uncover the actions of Officer Rosen but whatever it takes to expose how he has operated in our communities,” Green’s mother, Adrienna Hood, said in response to the forceful encounter with Anderson. “We now see the unreasonable aggression that my son saw in his last moments. Do the witnesses who stated that Rosen stood over Henry and emptied his clip now become more credible? Is this unbridled aggression a part of CPD training?”
UPDATE: In response to news reports of the incident, the president of a local police union representing Rosen told the Daily Beast that the officer didn’t actually kick Anderson.
“I know on first glance the video probably looks that way,” Jason Pappas said. “If you slow the video down, you can clearly see Officer Rosen’s boot on the defendant’s left shoulder. That is not a strike to the head, and I think that has been misreported and missed by many people.”