GBI investigating allegations of excessive force during Adel arrest

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 2:45 PM EDT
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ADEL, Ga. (WCTV) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations of excessive force by police officers arresting a black man in Adel Monday evening.

Adel police say they were investigating a wanted person, who was taken into custody for aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, giving false information to a law enforcement officer, and violation of the controlled substance act. The suspect also had an outstanding warrant for a probation violation, according to police.

Several people witnessed the arrest, telling WCTV it happened a little after 7 p.m. Monday evening along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Adel. At least two people took video of the incident, obtained by WCTV.

The first clip is only a second long, but shows at least five police officers surrounding a man on the ground. It appears to show one officer raising his fist to punch the man being arrested.

The second video, a Facebook live recording, is from a different angle and from a distance down the street, making it harder to see what is happening. There is clearly a struggle between several officers and the man, then they take him to the ground before the struggle continues.

*WARNING: The below video contains obscene language not appropriate for some viewers.*

The woman taking the video says “Look, y’all. They’re fighting... They’re tasing him... oh my god!” Another witness nearby is heard saying “They’re punching him.” The woman taking the video says, “Yes. They’re kicking him and everything.”

Later, the video shows police leading the handcuffed man to a squad car.

Authorities have not identified the man, but family and friends say it’s Gary Thomas, Jr. His family, supporters and civil rights activists are planning a march and rally in Adel Wednesday afternoon.

In a press release, the city says it was made aware of allegations of excessive force subsequent to the arrest and turned over the case to the GBI, writing “the city of Adel and the Adel Police Department take seriously any reports of excessive force utilized by an officer.” The city also says one of the officers involved is on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation.

The police chief tells WCTV the man taken into custody had no injuries.

It is unclear at this point what exactly transpired before the cameras started rolling.

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