An Alexandria Police officer was arrested on the evening of June 30 and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, for the unjustified use of force while on duty.
On Jan. 27, the officer took an individual into protective custody for a health evaluation. While escorting the individual in handcuffs, the officer used force to take the individual to the ground. The individual sustained multiple injuries on the front of his body as a result of the action. A subsequent investigation found that no force was necessary or justified. No weapons were involved in the incident.
The officer was placed on administrative leave on June 3, with his police powers suspended. On June 26, he was notified that the process had been initiated to terminate his employment and the use of force had been referred to the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The employment termination process is expected to be finalized by mid-July. Three supervisors who failed to investigate the use of force promptly enough have also been disciplined.
Following his arrest, the officer was booked at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria and released pending arraignment in Alexandria General District Court on August 4. This is the standard protocol for most misdemeanor bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic, to reduce the risk of exposure to inmates and staff.
“Use of force is dehumanizing and should be avoided whenever possible, even when legally justified.” said Chief of Police Michael Brown. “Unjustified use of force is completely unacceptable, and we will continue to hold officers accountable in the rare cases when violations of this policy occur. Alexandria police officers do not typically use force at all, because they are required to de-escalate interactions and situations when possible by communicating effectively with subjects, maintaining distance, and employing other measures to protect themselves and those around them.”
Alexandria police officers have used force against 37 subjects in 2019 and 2020, out of more than 5,500 individuals taken into custody. Black subjects comprised 50% of individuals taken into custody, 51% of subjects of force and less than 25% of Alexandria’s population..
Any officer who uses force is required to report it immediately, and an investigation of each use of force is conducted to determine whether it was justified. No use of force since 2017 has been found to be unjustified, other than the case described above. Since 2006, the Police Department has met with the Alexandria Human Rights Commission to discuss any officer-involved shooting or use of a Taser conductive energy weapon, as well as any complaint of excessive use of force. Since 2018, the Police Department has voluntarily used the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation of any officer-involved shooting, in addition to required reviews by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
To view the 2019 Use of Force Analysis and related frequently asked questions, visit https://www.alexandriava.gov/Police.
This article was updated July 11, 2020.