An Alabama officer in under investigation for an arrest he made on Tuesday night while working off-duty at a Walmart in Roebuck.
Cell phone footage showing the last moments of the arrest went viral, and witnesses maintained that the altercation began because the woman refused to wear a mask.
When Walmart employees asked the woman to put on a mask, she became hostile and began yelling obscenities at them.
They then called the officer to help them deal with the disorderly customer.
According to WBRC, the officer tried to get her to leave the store, but she refused.
The footage starts as the officer, wearing a mask, tried to take the woman into custody near the store’s entrance as other customers stood by.
After struggling for a few moments, the officer was able to pull her arms together behind her back, but she spun around and attempted to free herself from his grasp.
The video shows the officer picking her up before taking her to the ground and handcuffing her.
She appeared to hit the floor tiles with her face as she fell to the ground, and the officer jumped on top of her to pin her down as he applied the cuffs.
A second woman, not wearing a mask, began screaming at the officer, crowding him and yelling in his face.
The video continues from a different angle, showing the officer walking the handcuffed woman towards the exit as the second woman kept screaming in his face. He then removed pepper spray from his belt and sprayed it in the face of the screaming woman.
Uniformed officers began arriving then.
The handcuffed woman did not appear to be seriously hurt, and could be seen still struggling against the officer as the video ended.
According to WBRC, she wasn’t hurt, and refused medical attention.
Birmingham Police Sergeant Rod Mauldin confirmed that the officer was off-duty and working security for Walmart when the incident transpired.
In a written statement, Birmingham police said, “The same day the interaction occurred immediate actions were taken for the sake of public trust and transparency. A preliminary investigation consistent with the Birmingham Police Department reportable use of force protocols were immediately initiated and investigators of the Internal Affairs Division are conducting an investigation. This protocol applies for all use of force incidents that occur within the Birmingham Police Department.”
The department maintained that the arrest was conducted because of the woman’s disorderly conduct and refusal to leave, not because she was not wearing a mask.
The statement continued: “We understand we are operating in trying times. The Birmingham Police Department has maintained a consistent community-oriented educational approach to the surrounding circumstances of COVID-19. As a department, we have been successful in our efforts to gain compliance and cooperation from the vast majority of citizens in Birmingham.”
“Our records indicate, we have not issued any citations or made arrest as it relates to the shelter in place ordinance or the face-covering ordinance. We have made a valiant effort to gain voluntary compliance and we will continue to work cohesively with the community,” the statement read.
The suspect was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing third degree, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.