March 14, 2014
By Julie Montanaro
An FSU student is accusing campus police of excessive force.
The student claims officers punched him, pulled him from his
truck and tased him twice for asking the question "Am I under arrest?"
This is dascham video taken from an FSU Police squad car as three officers pull 20 year old Kyle Knapp from his car and force him to the ground during a traffic stop on December 22, 2013.
Knapp was charged with DUI, resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.
It's hard to see what happens on the ground, but you can hear officers deploy a taser twice as they try to get Knapp in handcuffs.
"It was horrific," FSU junior Kyle Knapp said. "I wasn't attacking them, I wasn't thrashing or anything. I was just face down on the ground with my arm pinned up underneath me. I felt something in my back and he said give me your arm and I said I can't and then he released the taser."
This unfolded at Mike's Beer Barn on the corner of Tennessee Street and Copeland at about 1:45 in the morning.
FSU police reports indicate an officer pulled Knapp over for an expired tag and then smelled alcohol on his breath. In his report, Officer Brian Cutcliffe contends Knapp refused multiple commands to get out of the car, he refused to get on the ground and once on the ground, he wrote, Knapp refused to put his hands behind his back.
'Through our training coordinator who's an expert in response resistance it was reviewed. Based on our review, we found it was reasonable and necessary as far as the officer's actions," said FSU Police Spokesman Jim Russell.
Assistant State Attorney Wade White watched the tape many times. He dropped all charges against Knapp saying "officers may have over-reacted." "I'm not certain the tasing was necessary," he said, "and I didn't think the defendants actions rose to the level of the charges filed. I didn't see him resisting," Wade said, "he certainly wasn't fighting."
Knapp's attorney, Don Pumphrey, says the officer's report did not match what was on the tape.
"If you look at the tape like the state attorney's office did, it doesn't compare," Pumphrey said.
"Is it excessive force?"
"That's an understatement," said Pumphrey.
"It's offensive," Pumphrey said, "and unacceptable in this community."
Pumphrey says his client never resisted or fought back and claims you can see an officer on the tape punch Knapp while he is still strapped in with his seatbelt.
FSU Police Spokesman Jim Russell says in their review of the tape they did not see any of the officers punch Knapp.
As for the charges being dropped, Russell says, that's up to the state attorney to decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial, but it doesn't mean there wasn't probable cause for Knapp's arrest.
Witnesses say a bystander across the street was recording the whole thing on his phone and officers crossed the street to confront him.
FSU's Police spokesman says he does not have any knowledge of that.