Use of Force by Syr Police Deemed OK After Review of Both Viral Arrest Video and Police Body Cameras

Jun 17, 2019

Police Chief Kenton Buckner showed police body camera video to explain why use of force in a recent arrest that raised outcry over excessive force, was in fact justified.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

Syracuse Police officers did not use excessive force during a recent traffic stop that was made public on video.  That’s the decision of Police Chief Kenton Buckner, who released details of his investigation Monday.  He explained that combining citizen video with police body-camera footage, the use of force was appropriate because the driver was not complying and was resisting arrest. 

Buckner understands how the video on social media raised community concerns.

“Force never looks good.  Images and language can often be disturbing when a police officer uses force.  As part of our internal review, I have reviewed this incident through three lenses, the law, SPD policy and our training.”  

While the force was ruled justified, Buckner says officers went over the line in their demeanor -- using profanity and other aggressive language.  He says they will be disciplined for that.  The situation clearly escalated when Shaolin (SHOU lin) Moore failed to get out of the vehicle for a noise violation, then got worse when he resisted attempts to handcuff him.  Buckner suggests people follow orders of police to minimize any risk of force. 

He also defended actions that on the video shared to social media showed officers punching Moore and putting a knee on his head.  Buckner says none of her actions were inteneded to injure, but rather were tactics to gain control as they were trying to handcuff him.  

Buckner was joined by Mayor Ben Walsh, who indicated he was satisfied at the transparency of the investigation into the incident.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

Mayor Ben Walsh knows people were angry about this incident, but he’s satisfied the way it’s played out.

“We have members of our community demanding different approaches and they’ve done so in ways that have been genuine and productive.  And we have a commitment in city government and in the leadership of the police department to being more open, to engaging in conversation, and to admitting when we’re wrong and willing to make change.  The way in which this matter has been handled is evidence of that commitment.”

Walsh notes the arrest and altercation were already reported and being investigated before the video went public. 

Chief Buckner also acknowledged that this incident has overshadowed a revamping of the entire department use of force policy.  The new plan includes goals of de-escalation and cultural sensitivity … while sticking with the basic philosophy of whether force is lawful, follows policy and is necessary.   

A public meeting on the new policy takes place June 28th.