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Lexington police release body cam footage of controversial arrest

Protesters claim police used a choke hold on a man.
Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 8:01 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington police on Sunday released body camera video showing a controversial arrest, after protesters claimed an officer used a choke-hold on a man.

Five people in total were arrested during protests Saturday in downtown Lexington. During one of those arrests, protesters say officers used a choke hold to take down James-David Woodhead, 36, of Lexington.

“Lexington Police is aware of accusations claiming that a chokehold was used on a protester who was arrested Saturday afternoon,” reads a statement from the police department released on Sunday. Without identifying Woodhead, the statement says the protester attempted to interfere with an arrest.

“An officer wrapped his arm around the man to pull him away from the other arresting officer,” the police department statement reads.

Lexington police had told protesters that if they marched in the street and blocked traffic, they would be arrested. On the body cam footage police released, you can hear officers discussing that if any protesters walked into the road when the crosswalk signal doesn’t allow, to arrest them.

Several witnesses say the five protesters were unjustly arrested. Protesters say when they were told to leave the street, they complied and continued to march, crossing the street as traffic signals allowed.

Woodhead released his own still images and a statement disputing the police department’s account of what happened.

He says officers tried to block him from recording, and he stepped in when he grew concerned about another protester “who was targeted for no clear reason, as white male officers charged her,” according to his description of events.

“An officer wrapped his arm around my neck, as he threw me on the ground,” Woodhead’s statement reads. “Officers were on top of me, as I repeatedly stated they were hurting me, and I was not resisting arrest.”

Statement from James-David Woodhead
Statement from James-David Woodhead(Provided)

Woodhead is charged with inciting a riot, second-degree disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. “He did so by actively resisting and pulling his arms away from officers,” his arrest citation reads, claiming several officers sustained minor injuries in the incident.

Woodhead and protest organizers are criticizing Lexington police for releasing body camera video of the incident.

“It alarms me that LPD is once again releasing edited body camera footage, stating that it captures the entirety of yesterday’s events, while trying to victimize peaceful protesters,” Woodhead’s statement says.

Police say the posted video shows “the entirety of the incident, including several minutes before and after the arrests.” The full video runs nearly 22 minutes.

Sarah Williams, a prominent protest organizer, posted on Facebook that police are “weaponizing body cam footage from a peaceful vigil that LPD crashed.” She criticized police for releasing footage “in an attempt to exonerate yourself” but not releasing footage from other investigations.

You can watch the body cam footage that was released here. Viewer discretion is advised.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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