Protests continue in Pennsylvania for the third day after police use controversial knee hold to restrain man

A video of a Pennsylvania police officer kneeling on a man has sparked outrage on social media, a protest and an investigation.


Protesters gathered for the third day in Allentown to demand the police be held accountable after a video emerged showing an officer kneeling on a man's head and neck. The video sparked outrage on social media, a protest at City Hall and an investigation.

The 40-second video was posted on Facebook Saturday morning. It shows three police officers restraining a man who is lying on the ground on his stomach outside of Scared Heart Hospital on Luke Street. Two officers appear to be kneeling on the man while a third is handcuffing him as he screams.

One police officer is seen using his elbow to forcibly hold the man down. The video then shows the officer using a controversial position, placing his knee on the upper back, head or neck region of the man.

This incident comes less than two months after George Floyd was killed while in police custody after being restrained in a similar manner by the Minneapolis police department, which started a nationwide movement calling for police reform.

In January, the Allentown Police Department had updated its use of force policy In the Restraint and Control Section notes it states: "Use of neck restraints or similar weaponless control techniques (choke holds) is prohibited. Preventing imminent death or serious bodily injury to a member or citizen is the only possible exception to the prohibition."

The video quickly began to trend on Twitter, by Saturday afternoon there was a protest outside of City Hall.

The protesters are calling this an incident of police brutality. They are asking for the immediate release of the body cam footage during the entire encounter with the man. They also are asking for the immediate suspension of the officers involved pending an investigation. The protesters pledged to continue to press elected officials on the issue of excessive police force and are demanding answers from the Mayor Ray O'Connell and Police Chief Glenn Granitz.

The mayor has called the video disturbing and said more facts are needed before moving forward.

The police have stated that prior to the start of the video they saw the man vomit and stumble along the sidewalk outside the Emergency Room entrance to the hospital. When police and hospital staff went to check on him, they say he started screaming and spitting at them. After he refused to comply with them, they began to restrain him.

Granitz says the man was then taken to the hospital where he was treated and later released.

The Lehigh County District Attorney is investigating the incident itself and the Allentown Police Department is investigating the police officer's use of force.