TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WHNT) - Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said Monday that three of his officers are on paid administrative leave while the department investigates videos that circulated like wildfire on social media.
The video shows police removing a young man from an apartment early Saturday morning and tasing him, also striking him multiple times. Officers were investigating a noise complaint.
Anderson said he is "deeply disappointed" in how his officers responded. He said internal affairs is reviewing video from at least one body camera worn by an officer. He asked people to remain patient while his team investigates and talks with witnesses, as well as students who were involved and their parents.
"We'll be open, honest, and as transparent as possible. We take this very seriously," Anderson said. "I take it very personally. I've put alot of effort over 21 years and a lot of other people have put a lot of effort in building the great reputation for the Tuscaloosa Police Department in our community. And I don't want to see that reputation destroyed by a careless or senseless act."
Anderson said unfortunately, the investigation does not move 'at the speed of the Internet.'
"We're going to get there. I want to assure people we're going to rebuild the trust of the public," he said.
He also urged people to not be afraid to call his department, and reinforced that to parents whose students attend school at the University of Alabama, too.
"Do not be afraid of calling the Tuscaloosa Police Department. We are here to protect and serve and do a job. Do we always get it right? No. But there's no need to fear our officers."
WARNING: The video contains graphic content.
Anderson said the three officers who are on leave have been with the Tuscaloosa Police Department for two, eight and 12 years, respectively.
"For me personally, when we have a situation like this, I take it personally. I wonder as a leader have I failed my department in some way? Have I provided adequate training? We'll be doing additional training. There will be some changes made. I take it personally when something happens in my department that creates a black eye on the city of Tuscaloosa," Anderson said.
The students arrested were: Matthew Gimlin Macia, 22, of Johns Creek, Ga.; Brandon James Williford, 21, of Tenn.; and Carolin Elizabeth Giddis, 22, of Tenn. All three were charged with obstructing governmental operations. Macia and Williford were charged with resisting arrest. Williford and Giddis were charged with harassment.
The University of Alabama commented on the matter Monday afternoon in a series of tweets:
Statement on TPD video: We are aware of the incident, and we remain very concerned about the welfare of all students who were there, esp. those who were arrested. We have reached out to provide support to them, and will continue to provide services they need. We can confirm that three UAPD officers responded to a TPD officer’s call for emergency assistance that morning and we are reviewing their actions to verify they acted appropriately. We encourage other students who have been impacted by this matter to contact the university’s Counseling Center at 205-348-3863.
The Tuscaloosa Police Department has responded to the video along with a counterpart, confirming that the incident occurred early Saturday morning following a noise complaint.