SPD chief reacts to cellphone video of confrontation, puts officer on paid leave

(Source: Facebook)
(Source: Facebook)
Published: May. 7, 2018 at 2:43 PM CDT|Updated: May. 7, 2018 at 9:54 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport police officer is on paid departmental leave following an internal investigation into his actions caught on camera.

Shreveport Police Chief Alan Crump placed Officer Gary Thomas on paid leave after a 50-second video was posted to Facebook.

The video shows an officer responding to what appears to be the front porch of a residence.

In the video, the officer uses several profanities and puts his hands on an unidentified young man.

"The behavior that I witnessed on the clip of the video that was seen definitely is not something that we train our officers to do," Crump said.

"And it led me to instruct an inquiry to investigate the matter in full so that we can get a full picture of what is going on so that the proper decisions can be made relative to the entire issue."

The police chief promises a thorough investigation.

"We are held to a standard, and we are obligated to maintain those. And if it goes out of the boundary or appears to go out of the boundary, then we take the proper actions to investigate to see if a violation was made. And then I will act accordingly."

Mayor Ollie Tyler released the following statement Monday morning:

"We are concerned with the content of the video that has been circulating on social media. I have instructed Chief Crump to take all appropriate action and to complete a thorough review of this matter. We expect all of our employees to interact with our public in a professional and courteous manner."

Tyler declined to comment further, telling City Council members Monday that "because it is a personnel issue, we can only make a generic statement."

Late Sunday night, police Cpl. Marcus Hines confirmed that an investigation is underway.

"Shreveport Police Chief Alan Crump has ordered an inquiry into a video which recently surfaced on social media in which a Shreveport police patrol officer is seen engaging a man in a manner not in line with departmental practices," a news release states.

Hines stated that any action "will be administered according to departmental policy."

It is not known what the officer was responding to, but the video suggests the officer was responding to a loud music complaint.

The teen can be seen questioning the officer in the verbal altercation.

"I can't imagine any circumstance where it would be OK for an officer of the law to talk to somebody like that. I cannot think of a situation where that would be OK," Galen Light said after watching the video.

"There are two failures happening in that video," said Lloyd Thompson, president of the Shreveport chapter of the NAACP.

"To go back and forth and interact with the officer was wrong.

"At the same token, the officer was wrong that he got elevated to the level that he used that kind of language toward a citizen."

Thompson said the situation is indicative of a national debate over how officers and citizens interact with one another.

"Officers should never, no matter what color they are, should never go out on the scene and use that kind of language," Thompson said.

"And then we need to let our African-American boys know that when you're interacting with the police, do what they ask you to do. ... You cannot win on the street," the NAACP official continued.

"And he got that way over loud music," Shreveport resident Kathy Johnson said.

"No, they're supposed to protect and serve not threaten. That's just wrong."

The video ends after two officers pull the teen out of a chair into the front yard.

Some Shreveport City Council members said they had not yet seen the video.

KSLA News 12 showed the video to District A's Willie Bradford, who called it "disturbing, very disturbing."

"Totally unacceptable behavior," the councilman said. "I don't know what initiated this call. But he came out in a rage; the police officer came out in a rage that I consider very inappropriate.

"I just hope that would be addressed in a sense that this is not the kind of behavior I would want from Shreveport Police Department personnel," Bradford continued.

Shreveport police union representatives declined to comment on the video at this time.

And Thomas, the officer, did not want to speak with KSLA News 12 about the case when a crew went to speak with him Monday afternoon at his home in Bossier City.

Dorothy West, a longtime neighbor of Thomas, said the officer seen shouting in the video is not the man she's known for years.

Thomas always has been a kind neighbor, she said.

That said, West had different reaction after watching video of Thomas yelling at the young man.

"Ooh, I'd slap him down. Nuh uh, no, I wouldn't take that stuff from nobody."

In May 2017, Bossier City police arrested Thomas on charges that he hurt his wife and refused to let her leave their home.

He was placed on departmental leave at that time.

In August, Thomas was fired from the Shreveport Police Department.

Six months after Thomas's arrest, the Bossier district attorney's office dropped the charge of domestic abuse battery against him.

Court records show he completed a diversion program.

Thomas later was reinstated as a Shreveport police officer after successfully appealing his firing to the civil service board.

Thomas was on medical leave when he was arrested in May 2017.

That's because a fellow officer accidentally shot Thomas in the foot while trying to hit a charging dog in March 2017.

So it's been a turbulent year for the eight-year veteran of the Shreveport police force.

KSLA News 12 has filed a public records request to learn why police were called to the home and what happened before and after the video recording.

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