HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville police said in a statement Tuesday they are investigating an incident captured on video that showed an officer stomp on a man’s leg during his arrest.
Police said in the statement that they were called around 6 p.m. Sunday to the Mapco at 905 Memorial Parkway by a store employee. When an officer arrived on the scene, police said in the statement “the individual was non-compliant.”
Video of the incident shows an officer on top of the suspect, later identified as Kemontae Hobbs, 22, on the floor of the store. The two are struggling as more officers arrive.
One of the officers can be seen in the video repeatedly stomping on Hobbs’ leg. Police said they have seen the video.
“We understand concerns with use of force techniques used in the arrest and we take these concerns seriously,” the department’s statement read. “The full incident is under review including all actions taken by officers during the arrest process.”
News 19 requested police body camera video of the incident under the Alabama Open Records Act, but the city denied the request, claiming the video is not a public record because it is part of an investigation.
Hobbs was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing government operations.
His mother Kimberlyn Hayes and Martin Weinberg, an attorney retained by the family, spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon. They said Hobbs, 22, had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia a number of years ago. They expressed concern that HPD officers don’t have sufficient training to handle cases involving people dealing with mental health issues.
They said Hobbs was tased during the incident and is dealing with injuries from the encounter.
Attorney Weinberg said the police response was excessive given the situation.
“The crime was panhandling, or you know, something along those lines, which we understand is the case,” he said. “There is no reason this is appropriate use of force. And it could have been a lot worse.”
Weinberg said the family appreciates that HPD said it is reviewing the incident. It is not clear from the Huntsville Police Department’s statement today what its review process will entail or if any disciplinary steps — if taken — will be announced publicly.
Hobbs was charged with resisting arrest and interfering with government operations. He was not charged with trespassing or another underlying charge, only charges stemming from his encounter with police.
Weinberg said Hobbs never had a chance to comply with officers commands.
“Regardless, the stomping and the kicking was unnecessary,” Weinberg said. “Yelling ‘don’t resist’ while he kept continuing to stomp and that didn’t give him an opportunity to do anything.”
Weinberg said the family will notify the City of Huntsville of their plans to sue over the incident.
This is not the first encounter Hobbs has had with HPD. In October 2020 he pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing government operations. He’s appealing that charge and is due to go on trial in late June in Madison County Circuit Court.
He was also tased in that 2020 incident, according to court records.
The officer’s complaint filed in the 2020 case 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 October 2020 court filing that 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.
The department’s full statement is below.
HUNTSVILLE, AL – “The Huntsville Police Department responded to a 911 call placed by a convenience store employee at 905 Memorial Parkway at 6 p.m., on Sunday, May 30. After an officer arrived on the scene and made contact with the suspect, the individual was non-compliant. The officer called for backup. An altercation with police subsequently occurred resulting in the arrest of Kemontae Hobbs, 22, for resisting arrest and obstructing government operations. We have viewed citizen-provided video that partially captures the arrest process. We understand concerns with use of force techniques used in the arrest and we take these concerns seriously. The full incident is under review including all actions taken by officers during the arrest process.” – Huntsville Police Department