Tuesday, May 26, 2020
A Jackson police officer, captured by video Friday pinning a young man by the neck backward to the top of a car, is on administrative leave pending an Internal Affairs investigation. In the video that started circulating Friday night, the officer is pressing the young man’s neck as he sounds like he is gagging. A young woman wearing a safety mask next to them keeps saying, “he can’t breathe.”
Jackson Police Department Public Information Officer Sam Brown said in a telephone interview today that the patrolman’s name is Myron Smith.
"When the video surfaced, it got to Chief James Davis, and he immediately placed (Smith) on administrative leave and turned it over him to Internal Affairs,” Brown said.
On the video, the officer stood over the young man, very close to his face, bending him backward onto the top of the car, seeming to hold him down by the neck and preventing his movement. More than one camera recorded the incident, while some passersby pleaded for the officer to let him go.
"What did I tell you to do, what did I tell you to do? When I told you to leave, what are you out here doing?" Smith shouted, as captured in the video.
The young man struggled to break off the hold, but was overpowered by the officer who kept shouting at him and making a scene on the road. A parked police car can be seen in the video, possibly belonging to the officer.
As he pinned the young man, Smith dared the young man to "make" him do something more, but it was unclear what he meant.
"Make me, make me, I say, make me,” the officer, visibly angry, repeatedly said.
The Jackson Free Press viewed a video lasting about two minutes. It showed the woman attempting to push the officer's hands off the young man, with Smith not treating that act kindly. He shouted at her, saying: "Get off me, get off me, I say get off me."
When told by the woman, "he can't breathe, he is not able to breathe, he is shaking sir, he can't breathe," Smith responded, "Ma'am, do you see my hands? I am not even choking him” as he continued to hold him down on the black Toyota.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba's office released a statement in response to the incident. He said his administration is focused on engendering a positive relationship between the police and the people of Jackson.
"This administration is clear that we are trying to build an approach to public safety that is about trust, collaboration, and integrity. Any actions that do not reflect those principles have no place in the City of Jackson,” Lumumba said in the statement.
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.