A few weeks ago, a video appeared on social media showing Buffalo police officers using excessive force against a man. Now, the man has been identified and the department is conducting an investigation.
The video shows 22-year-old John Willet being arrested on the ground, and the man who recorded the video was asked to delete it once the officers realized he had caught them using force. Luckily for him, he and a friend quickly switched phones when they realized the officers were going to ask them to delete it.
“He knocked him down,” said the man responsible for the video. “I was like, I know there’s going to be more than this. So, that’s when I started recording it. The cop just came and pushed him. He didn’t say a word. He just knocked him down. One cop saw me. He taps his friend on the shoulder and he pointed at me. So, I knew they were going to come to me. He told me give me your phone, or delete the video or I’m going to take your phone as evidence. He says just delete it. I’m like okay. I grabbed my friend’s phone and I deleted it. And I showed it to him. He said thank you very much. He checked it to make sure it was gone. He said thank you very much and he left.”
The man still had the original video on his own phone, however, and once it was uploaded online, it quickly went viral.
Willet says an unmarked police car pulled up beside him on the night of the incident, and he didn’t know who it was, so he started to drive away at a high rate of speed. The cops started chasing him, and eventually, he got out of his car and ran on foot. After a little bit, Willet stopped and surrendered, and that’s when the officer threw the first punch.
“I put my hands up and that’s when I got the first swing to my face,” said Willet. “I surrendered. I stopped. I put my hands up. It was no more point to run.”
That’s when, as video shows, the officers began to kick and beat Willet while arresting him. Since the video went viral, Officer John Cirulli was placed on unpaid administrative leave, and five other officers were taken off the streets. Police spokesman Michael DeGeorge says the incident is under investigation, but State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco says that the officers had no right to demand the cameraman delete his video in the first place.