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NORMAN, Okla. – A video showing officers restraining and arresting a suspect on the University of Oklahoma campus has students demanding answers.
Norman police officers say they had to resort to drastic measures to get a man in handcuffs and into custody.
Monday afternoon, hundreds of students walked by what started as a man’s run in with Norman police, until they heard screaming.
“He’s screaming for his life,” said Blake Wilson, who pulled out his camera and started filming the incident.
Students say the officers kneed the man multiple times and others say they saw officers taze him.
To some, it seemed excessive.
“The gentleman seemed to be complying for the most part," says Wilson. “I don’t think repeatedly kneeing the gentleman and using that much force with four officers on top of him, smashing his head into the asphalt is really that necessary.”
Wilson responded to his friends' comments in the Facebook video post by describing what he saw:
"Dude was sitting on the ground doing nothing just talking to the four police officers standing around him and then this happened...."
"I was going to class and saw four cops standing around the guy sitting down and he was talking to them and it seemed pretty calm. I don't know why they were standing around him he was not yet in hand cuffs I waited outside and then they tried to put him in handcuffs and that's when I started to record."
The man in handcuffs is Willie Cannon.
Officials say they deal with him often and he has a history with the Norman Police Department.
This time, he was allegedly trying to look up the skirts of women who walked by him.
Norman police says their actions were justified.
“No matter what he did basically, the kind of way they subdued him was excessive. It was horrifying to watch. It was unnecessary,” said Grayson English.
English caught the arrest on his smartphone too.
He says national headlines and allegations of police brutality across the country motivated him to get it all on camera.
“I just figured it was better safe than sorry, in the interest of getting more of an objective account of this interaction,” said English.
Now, English says the students want Norman police to explain themselves.
The shares, likes and comments on these videos have made it almost impossible for the department to ignore.
“It’s not acceptable to deal with people in that way,” said English.
Chief Keith Humphrey, with the Norman Police Department, says the department is conducting an investigation into the officers' use of force, as they do with all uses of force.
Chief Humphrey made the following comments:
“To our Norman community, we have nothing to hide and will be totally transparent as the law will allow. I can assure you that the actions were justified, and hopefully each of you will understand when details are presented in the very near future. The use of force never looks good, and the application of force by an officer is never received as a positive action by the community. However, when we educate our community regarding why officers may have to utilize force it can reduce the negative perceptions that come with the actions.”
The Students for a Stateless Society, a student group at the University of Oklahoma, released its own statement:
As for Cannon, he was taken to the hospital and then taken to jail.