Locals critique police use of excessive force

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Tamika Moore, right, mother of Saladin Brown, gets emotional while she speaks about her son’s recent altercation with city police officers.

Some people are feeling the city police are taking detainment and patrol too far.

Several city residents — including about eight individuals protesting this week by holding up signs marked with sentences such as “Film Cops/Capture the Truth” — said they are outraged at recent incidents involving police.

Several videos are being shared on social media sites, including Facebook, inflaming rhetoric and emotions as police conduct internal and criminal investigations.

Tamika Moore was among those at a protest Wednesday at the Williamsport Green, on the corner of West Fourth and Hepburn streets, across from City Hall.

Moore’s 19-year-old son, Saladin Brown, was slammed to the ground by an officer, handcuffed and briefly detained at police headquarters before he was released Sunday.

“It’s an ongoing criminal investigation,” said Williamsport Police Chief David J. Young.

Young declined to comment further on the protesters or the incident involving Brown. He said a news release would be forthcoming.

Moore acknowledged her son made a furtive movement, turning slightly to the right, while his back was to a police officer as he stood in a typical “frisking” position.

His movement, she said, was because the officer yanked on his belt from behind and caused pain in his groin.

The body slamming was not necessary, she said.

“My son is suffering from the pain of being body slammed, and (is) taking medicine for migraine headaches,” Moore said.

She acknowledged that she has retained a private attorney.

Moore said she would attend the next City Council meeting on Sept. 13 and wants to speak during the public comment period.

Moore admitted her son was wearing an ankle bracelet when the officer detained him.

According to court records, Brown was charged with distributing 40 bags of heroin last October. However, the charges were withdrawn, according to Moore, which was confirmed on a court docket.

Brown then was stopped by police in the 1100 block of High Street on March 24 and charged with carrying a firearm without a license, according to court records.

The gun charge is pending and his next appearance in Lycoming County Courthouse is scheduled for Tuesday, court records stated.

Meanwhile, Brown has been living with his grandmother on Cherry Street, Moore said. He is a friend of the Indiana Pacers’ Alize Johnson and wants to attend Texas University and play basketball, Moore said.

“First, he is going to get his general equivalency diploma,” she said. “He isn’t selling heroin.”

As the sun beamed down on the group at the protest, the organizer, who declined to be identified, said he is a 40-year-old ex-convict who spent one to three years in state prison.

“I used to steal cars,” he said. Today, “I’m a father and a machinist.”

Upset by alleged excessive force, the man said the group planned to walk in protest, ending outside of City Hall.

Councilwoman Liz Miele stopped by and asked for information about the incident and the group’s purpose but had no comment.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said the group has a right to gather.

“Everyone has the right to assemble or protest, and this is fine,” Campana said.

The mayor said he’s been advised not to comment about the protest or the situation involving Brown.

“The police will address it shortly,” he said.

Other incidents also are surfacing and causing issues for the police and administration.

Latifa Jettel said her 16-year-old son was at a carnival on Memorial Park earlier this year when a fight broke out.

Her son heard someone yell a racist remark, Jettel said. When an officer told her son to leave and claimed he was trespassing, he was grabbed by his backpack, she said.

“He was scuffed up,” Jettel said.

Galissa Whaley also shared a video of two police cars stopping another man as he allegedly walked to work.

“They stopped me, accused me of selling drugs,” the man said of the video.

Police are heard saying, “You have quite a drug history,” after which he replies that he “never got booked for drugs.”

As of press time Wednesday, police had not issued a news release on the original incident.