ATLANTA — A viral video showing a Georgia state trooper kicking a man on the ground in Atlanta has some people questioning if the use of force was necessary.
The video starts right after a trooper with Georgia State Patrol tried to pull over a man for not wearing a seatbelt. GSP said the man drove off, then got out of the car and ran, and that’s where the video, posted on ATL Uncensored's Instagram account, picks up.
In the video, from Oct. 3, a man is seen running from a trooper near Edgewood Avenue. Two pops from the trooper's taser can be heard before the man falls to the ground. At that point, the trooper kicks the man twice, appearing to stomp him as he laid on the ground.
“At first it concerned me," said Charles Rambo, a former Fulton County deputy. "Because, the trooper was striking his heel, like out of excitement or out of something that the saw suspect.”
In a statement, GSP said the trooper did see something suspect: a gun.
"During the foot pursuit, the trooper observed a handgun fall from the driver’s waistband. The trooper did not see where the firearm fell. The driver fell to the ground and failed to display his hands. The driver was given verbal commands but refused to show his right hand. The trooper was unaware if the driver was still armed," the statement read.
Rambo, who now trains law enforcement officer and sat on use of force boards in Fulton County, said although the video looks shocking, the use of force may have been reasonable given what the trooper believed at the time.
“The trooper acted in good faith and was not malicious in what he was doing, if he legitimately saw a firearm, which they say was recovered, and was potentially stolen," Rambo explained.
GSP’s use of force policy states a trooper can use non-lethal force “reasonably, to overcome resistance, control a subject or protect themselves or others from injury.”
It also reads “the evaluation of a member’s use of force will be undertaken from the perspective of a reasonable member on the scene -- not through …hindsight.”
The trooper eventually found the gun on the sidewalk, after placing the man in handcuffs. GSP said they will review the use of force.
Rambo believes the trooper acted with restraint, by using his taser and foot strikes, to get the man in handcuffs
“I would have hate to see that officer or that trooper use his service weapon, so in my humble opinion he did act with reasonableness.”
GSP said the 27-year-old man is on probation for assault, and has an active warrant for simple battery. He was charged with fleeing, obstruction, possession of a firearm with altered serial number, and six other crimes.