HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Huntsville Police Department tells News 19 it is investigating an incident captured Sunday night on a Facebook Live video showing several officers struggling with a man on the ground and one Huntsville police officer stomping on the man’s leg.
The incident occurred at the Mapco gas station on University Drive and the video has more than 12,000 views on Facebook and thousands more on Twitter.
It’s unclear what happened prior to the live stream’s start. The man who recorded the encounter, Bruce Turner, said he was told by a store clerk that the man had been harassing women in the store. Turner told News 19 he noticed one officer was engaged with the man. Turner then walked to the back of the store to get water, and as more officers entered the store he began recording the encounter. When the clip begins the man being detained is already face down on the ground and someone is screaming for help in the background.
Two officers appear to struggle with the man on the ground when another officer runs into the frame and immediately begins stomping on the man’s leg repeatedly while shouting “stop resisting.”
The video is about a minute and a half long. As it ends, officers are seen lifting the man to his feet and begin walking him out of the store.
News 19 asked the Huntsville Police Department for comment and details about the encounter, including what led officers to respond to the scene and if the behavior recorded in the video follows police department policy.
An HPD spokesman said they’d have a response, “in the coming days.”
Huntsville City Councilman Devyn Keith commented on the Facebook video, saying he considered what happened in the video “reckless use of force.”
“My issue and why I am baffled is at the fact he storms in at the top and automatically goes to stomping,” Keith wrote. “The other officer(s) start to restrain and state (communicate). The original officer still in what seems to be body control…. never throws a punch… the Stomping Officer never aides (sic) in control.”
News 19 reached out to Keith for comment and was still waiting for a response late Monday afternoon.
David person with the Rosa Parks Day Committee calls the video “horrifying.”
“Looked like he was trying to break his leg. That was profoundly disturbing, and again, this is just another example of what’s wrong with the culture of policing in our city,” says David Person.
Person says this only renews his belief that the Huntsville Police Department needs reform.
“The mayor of the city of Huntsville better be clear by now on the fact that he has a very serious problem with his police department,” says Person.
Late Monday afternoon News 19 asked for the body cam video from officers at scene.
Based on jail records, and a later shot in the video, it appears the man grabbed by police is 22-year-old Kemontae Hobbs of Huntsville. He was charged with obstructing government operations and resisting arrest Sunday.
Hobbs pleaded guilty in October 2020 of obstructing government operations. He appealed that ruling to circuit court and is set to go on trial for that charge in late June.
In the prior incident, a Huntsville Police Department officer reported he tased Hobbs and then arrested him, court records show.
The court filing said HPD officers responded to a domestic violence call and Hobbs “matched the description of the offender.” An HPD officer then “attempted a pat down for weapons for officer safety,” but while officers were attempting the pat down, Hobbs “pulled away and turned towards the officer conducting the pat down,” according to court records.
An HPD officer said in the court filing, he then “pulled my taser out on Mr. Hobbs. He then turned towards me and began to charge at me, causing me to have to deploy my taser on him to gain control. By refusing to listen to officer commands, physically pulling away from a pat down, and charging at me, Mr. Hobbs hindered our ability to safely conduct an investigation of a domestic violence call,” according to the officer’s complaint filed with the court.