The leadership of Fairfax County's NAACP chapter is demanding increased accountability and transparency for police in the county after a white officer was filmed shocking a black man with a stun gun.
Fairfax County Police Officer Tyler Timberlake was arrested and charged with three counts of assault and battery after excessive force was used in an arrest Friday. Police Chief Edwin Roessler said the officer violated the department's use of force policy.
"This incident should have never happened," Fairfax NAACP President Sean Perryman said in a statement posted to social media. "This latest video is a testament that Fairfax County is not immune to police violence."
About 9% of Fairfax County residents are Black, and Black residents are disproportionately involved in police use-of-force incidents. In 2018, Fairfax County reported that 44% of community members involved in use of force incidents were Black.
Perryman commended Chief Roessler and the commonwealth's attorney for quickly disciplining Timberlake, who worked for the force for eight years. Perryman said that having video of the confrontation was key.
"We do not know what the official story would be without body cam or bystander video," Perryman said.
The arrest happened one day before tens of thousands flocked to D.C. to demonstrate against police brutality.
Video released by the police department shows one officer getting out of a car in the Mt. Vernon area and asking a man pacing in the street in apparent distress if he needed help. That officer was trying to deescalate the situation and get the man into a waiting ambulance, Roessler said.
Then, Timberlake responded and body camera video shows him using a Taser on the man multiple times.
As the officer pinned the man to the ground with his knee, the man struggled and shouted, "Help! Help! No, no, no!" He repeatedly called out for someone named DeeDee.
The victim's family addressed an emergency community meeting about the incident Monday evening. Lisa Lowe says her family can't understand why officer Timberlake used force in a situation they feel was already being handled by other officers and paramedics.
"It was a quiet situation. [He] wasn't hurting anyone, and the ambulance man almost had him in there - and for the officer to just jump out of his car and immediately pull out his Taser. I mean, come on. He escalated the situation and he could've killed my nephew," Lowe said.
Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano said the value of the body camera footage couldn't be understated.
"Without it, I fear we would have had an unfortunately narrow and distorted view of what happened in one of our own neighborhoods," Descano said in a statement.
Fairfax County has started a three-year, multi-million dollar plan to outfit police officers with body cameras. Four hundred cameras were put into service in April, but the chief warned that the next phases could be delayed due to coronavirus-related budget cuts.
The NAACP is calling for there to be fewer interactions between Black individuals and armed officers. He said the NAACP will make specific data- and policy-driven recommendations for the county and state.
Perryman said that white citizens must speak up and support the changes.
There are two investigations into the case: an internal police investigation and a criminal investigation into the assault charges. Timberlake faces up to 36 months in prison if he's convicted on the criminal charges.