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Police in Pennsylvania are investigating after an officer appeared to put a knee on the neck of a person during an incident captured on video by at least one bystander that drew comparisons to the death of George Floyd.

The Allentown Police Department is conducting a use of force investigation, according to a statement released Sunday. Video of the incident on Twitter shows three officers on top of a screaming man.

One of the officers appears to put a knee on the man’s neck after first trying to restrain him by other means.

The video drew immediate condemnation from attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family. Crump shared video of the incident on Twitter, describing it as “exactly what led to (Floyd’s) death.” He also called for police to identify the officer.

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Floyd, a Black man, died after now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin, who is white, has since been arrested on second-degree murder charges and three officers involved with the incident have been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.

Video of the incident in Pennsylvania shows two officers restraining the man while a third officer appears to put a knee on the man’s neck. Floyd was also restrained by three officers while a fourth officer worked to control a growing crowd around the situation.

The incident in Allentown took place Saturday at St. Luke’s Hospital-Sacred Heart, according to the statement and local reports.

Officers were at the hospital for an “unrelated matter” before they “observed a male outside who was vomiting and staggering in the street, eventually stopping in the driveway of the emergency room,” police said in the statement. 

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“The observed erratic behavior resulted in the officers and hospital staff interacting with the individual,” the statement said. “The individual began to yell, scream and spit at the officers and hospital staff.

“As the officers attempted to restrain the individual, all parties fell to the ground. The individual continued to be noncompliant, which required officers to restrain the individual and the hospital applied a spit shield.” 

The statement doesn’t mention the officer putting a knee on or near the man’s neck. 

The man was treated at the hospital and released, according to the statement. Police added an investigation into the incident will be reviewed by the Lehigh County district attorney and that review is not expected to be completed until later this week. Video from the incident is also being reviewed, police said. 

The Allentown Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment from USA TODAY. St. Luke’s and the Allentown mayor’s office also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

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Floyd’s death on Memorial Day has sparked ongoing protests nationwide against racial discrimination and police brutality. The Morning Call in Pennsylvania reported protesters marched into downtown Allentown and confronted Mayor Ray O’Connell and Police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. about the incident. 

O’Connell called the video “disturbing” and said, “I think we need to gather all the facts and information before we go forward,” according to the newspaper. 

The Allentown Police Department’s use of force policy is available on its website. Under its “restraint and control” section, the policy notes, “Use of neck restraints or similar weaponless control techniques (choke holds) is prohibited.”

Preventing imminent death or serious bodily injury to a member or citizen is the only possible exception to the prohibition, according to the policy.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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