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Marietta police respond to viral video showing officers punch man in face at IHOP

The incident allegedly began over bacon.

MARIETTA, Ga. — Marietta Police said a video spreading on social media showing an officer punch a man at an IHOP doesn't tell the whole story of what happened.

According to the Marietta Police Department, officers were called to the IHOP at 179 Cobb Parkway North just before 1 a.m. on Sunday after responding to a 911 call that said a man had "made threats" including "gesturing like he had a gun."

The man's wife reportedly told responding officers that the issue wasn't about threats, but explained they "needed" the restaurant employee names and their phone numbers because she was upset they were out of bacon, according to a police statement.

The family has responded to the allegations, calling them unfounded.

READ FAMILY STATEMENT: Family of man arrested at IHOP demands apology from restaurant, asks DA to drop charges

Police said that the suspect, identified as 39-year-old Renardo Lewis, and his wife grew more agitated as the officers got statements from witnesses.

More officers arrived at the scene and eventually made the decision to handcuff Lewis. 

In the video that's being circulated on social media, a woman is heard yelling "Why?" several times as the officer detained Lewis. A struggle between Lewis and several officers ensues.

Watch the video: Warning continues language and images some may find offensive.

"The moment the officer attempted to detain the suspect in handcuffs, the entire situation changed and became a wrestling match," police said.

The officers bring Lewis to the ground as several people continue to yell. At one point, an officer is seen punching Lewis in the face and several more times to the back of the head as a woman screams, "Don't hit him."

This is how police described it:

"While the video may seem shocking to some, we are very proud that all officers used only the force necessary to place Mr. Lewis in handcuffs. Multiple officers wrestled with Lewis for roughly ninety seconds. During that struggle, Lewis grabbed Officer Fowler by the neck, briefly attempting to strangle her. At that time, Officer Mallin warned and then deployed his taser. 

The Officers get Mr. Lewis on the ground but he is still actively resisting their orders. From what we see in the video circulating, Officer Mallin used a series of short-strike punches to Mr. Lewis in order to get him to surrender his hands and be placed in handcuffs. The moment Mr. Lewis was placed in handcuffs all physical struggle stopped."

Lewis was taken to the hospital for evaluation before being booked on several charges including public drunkenness, obstruction, hindering an investigation, and aggravated assault on an officer. As of Monday, he was being held without bond. 

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office
Lewis Renardo Nehemiah

The video has been seen more than 20,000 times, according to Facebook statistics. 

Community activist Gerald Rose said he's asked Marietta Police for the body camera video to be released to show more of what happened.

"We don't want to go off emotions, we want to go off facts" Rose said. "But we did see [the social video] and I'm very concerned on the video that we've seen right now."

Marietta Police Officer Chuck McPhilamy reiterated the points the department made in the statement.

"It isn't pretty, but we are proud of the fact that the officers - if you look at it again and consider - the officers used restraint and only used the force required to eventually get a suspect who we were told made threats to kill everyone in a building," McPhilamy said. "We didn't know if he had a gun."

Police said they are continuing to investigate the initial terroristic threat claims. They said they'll conduct an internal investigation into the incident to ensure "all actions taken were appropriate and within policy guidelines."


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