NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WGGB) — It’s the video that’s gone viral here in Western Mass. A Northampton police officer pepper spraying a man over the weekend.
It shows a small crowd gathered outside Tully O’Reilly’s pub in Northampton – both police and patrons – around 1:30 Sunday morning. The video was taken by a woman across the street and then posted to Facebook and YouTube.
18 seconds in it happens…police pepper spray Jonas Correia and wrestle him to the ground.
On the video you can hear Correia screaming, “I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do anything.”
The woman recording the incident seems to agree. “He didn’t do anything,” she repeats.
But according to court documents and the police narrative, he did.
Police say Correia was threatening a Tully’s bouncer. As they tried to intervene, the situation escalated.
The officer writes Correia “appeared to be taking a fighting stance and I believed he was going to strike.”
WEB EXTRA: CLICK HERE to read the Northampton Police narrative of what happened.
That’s when a second officer stepped in and used pepper spray.
It’s jarring to see, but is it police misconduct as the video purports?
“It’s all governed by the 4th amendment which is what is the reasonable amount of force under the circumstances,” explained David Kuzmeski, a professor of criminal justice at American International College and chief of campus police.
Looking over the video, Kuzmeski says it’s pretty ambiguous as to exactly what happened since it doesn’t show what led up to the altercation.
Plus, it’s taken from a distance and certain subtle clues may not be visible.
“It’s a fine line. It’s a very difficult line to make those judgments. But an officer does not have to wait for a person to strike them, hit them, for them to resort to some means of force to control the individual,” said Kuzmeski.
As of now, that fine line is one the courts will have to decide.
Correia is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
You can watch the video in its entirety below: (Some language may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised)