A man says a police officer slammed a woman to the ground at Tysons Corner Center, but Fairfax County's police chief says video shows the claim is "absolutely false."
Lia Chen, 19, was with a friend who was arrested for shoplifting at the Spencer's store in the mall on Thursday evening. Police say after they issued a summons to her friend, Chen poured out her water bottle all over the floor and threw the bottle as police officers stood nearby.
When the plainclothes officers tried to arrest Chen for disorderly conduct, she resisted and tried to break free, police said.
"To gain control and prevent her from harming herself or others, she was guided to the ground by the arresting officer and finally handcuffed after the officer gained control of her," Fairfax County police said in a release Tuesday.
But 27-year-old Steven Bun claimed in a Facebook post he saw the officers slam Chen "face first into the ground."
"They took her to Spencer’s and they threw her down and then that’s when I pulled out my phone and started recording. I'm like, 'Yo! What are you doing? Like, she’s like the size of your leg,'" Bun told News4.
Outside the store, Bun and his girlfriend confront the officers who are part of the Tysons Urban Team. Bun can be heard shouting and cursing in the recording and the officers repeatedly tell the couple to "back up."
Bun was arrested for disorderly conduct. He said officers bruised his hand and broke his watch during the encounter.
"All this over a water bottle. You basically chased her down, slammed her to the floor over spilt water, a water bottle. That could've been handled way differently," Bun said.
"The statement that this young lady was body-slammed to the ground is absolutley false. I have video that shows that she was escorted and guided to the ground because she was resisting a lawful arrest," Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said.
Roessler showed News4 other camera views not yet made public that reveal a crowd had started to gather on the mall level above the scene. Other officers responded and were concerned the situation could get out of hand, he said.
"This is how people get hurt, shot, killed. Officers, community members - this is a family environment and this could have immediately gone bad," Roessler said.
Roessler says all use of force incidents are reviewed, but he personally ordered his internal affairs team to examine the incident.