A Georgia cop claimed he felt threatened by Antonio Smith when he snuck up behind him and grabbed his wrist, wrapping his arms around his body, ordering him to put his hands behind his back.
Body camera footage shows Valdosta Police Sergeant Billy Wheeler had Smith in a tight bearhug from behind, restricting Smith’s movements, making it impossible for him to move his arms. Smith’s arms also appeared to already be behind his back when the sergeant picked him up and slammed him to the ground, breaking his left wrist.
It was only after the sergeant and two other cops had piled on top of Smith, planting their knees on him to handcuff him, that another cop informed them they had the wrong man.
Turns out, the real suspect had already been arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Last week, Smith filed a federal lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department, alleging his civil rights were violated. The video shows they are not just allegations. There was no reason to attack him as they did because he was already being cooperative with the other cop, presenting his identification and proclaiming his innocence even though there was no need to stop him in the first place.
Wheeler, of course, twisted the narrative in typical cop fashion, claiming that Smith was standing with a “bladed stance,” which is cop spin to claim Smith was on the verge of attacking an officer which anybody can see on the video is a complete lie.
According to the Valdosta Daily Times:
As he approached the scene, the sergeant stated he noticed the patrolman talking to Smith who was “standing with a ‘bladed’ stance and he appeared to be arguing or debating with” the patrolman.
“Based on what I observed and believing this person to have a warrant for his arrest, I grasped his right wrist. I felt Smith tense up and begin to pull away from me. At that time, I wrapped my arms around Smith in a ‘bear hug,’” the sergeant wrote in his report.
He stated he adjusted his grip after the patrolman asked Smith to put his arms behind his back and that Smith “continued to press his arms outward against mine.”
The sergeant stated Smith did not comply with orders and he pulled Smith “off-balance and rolled him to the ground to gain control of him in anticipation of a warrant arrest.”
After it was determined that Smith was innocent, the cops suggested he hang around and wait for paramedics but Smith wanted nothing more to do with them and declined. He later checked himself into a hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured left wrist.
The incident took place on February 8, 2020 after Smith had been waiting at Walgreens for a wire transfer via Western Union from his sister in Florida. As police were arresting the real suspect on the warrant, the arresting officer told an arriving officer to check the other side of the building for a man who was supposedly panhandling, although it appears the panhandler was already in custody.
Nevertheless, Valdosta police officer Dominic Henry spotted Smith walking away from the store and stopped him, asking for his identification, claiming he was investigating “suspicious activity.” The video shows Smith was trying his best to cooperate, knowing he had done nothing wrong.
But Wheeler chose to abuse him anyway, grabbing hold of him from behind before even ordering him to place his hands behind his back. Meanwhile, Henry said nothing the entire time they were abusing Smith, just like those cops in Minneapolis said nothing the entire time Derek Chauvin had his knee planted on George Floyd’s neck.
Wheeler is a sergeant, after all, and Henry is just an officer. Henry claimed he was confused during the arrest.
“No, there’s two different people,” Henry told the other cops after watching them abuse him for more than two minutes. “That’s why I was trying to figure out if I had missed something when you told him to put his hands behind his back.”