A Salt Lake City police officer is now under investigation after a video of him pushing a man with a cane down a street during protests Saturday went viral. The man, 67-year-old James Tobin, later said he was only taking pictures when he was pushed. The protests of George Floyd's death in Utah's capital city turned violent that day and produced multiple shocking videos on social media.
On Saturday, ABC 4's live broadcast of the demonstrations included footage of an officer in full riot gear pushing a man using a cane. Video of the scene now has more than 9.5 million views. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown later released a statement on YouTube Sunday, calling the officer's actions "inappropriate." He said there will be an internal investigation and the Civilian Review Board will conduct its own review.
Salt Lake City cops shove down an elderly man with a cane for the crime of standing along the street: pic.twitter.com/PCLkHqQtJg— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 31, 2020
"It was hard for me to watch what happened, and I know it was even harder for him to experience it," Brown said, reports Fox 13. "This is not what I would expect from Salt Lake City PD. My expectations are that if people are exercising their first amendment rights, we give them the space to do so peacefully." Brown said he personally apologized to the man in the video.
Tobin later spoke with ABC 4 and said he was only taking pictures with his digital camera when the police officer pushed him to the ground. "He came charging at me with the shield, saying ‘get back, get back, get back,'" Tobin recalled. Tobin said he fell face-first onto the ground and needed help from witnesses to stand up. He said the other people stayed with him and tried to call an ambulance, but one could not get to the scene. The witnesses bandaged up the cuts on his arms.
Tobin, who has leukemia, said Brown told him this was "not the way the police are supposed to act" and said the officer will be investigated. "I told him whatever you’re going to do is fine with me," Tobin said. He said his shoulder still hurts and his rib is "still sore, but the main problem is my knee." Tobin is satisfied with his conversation with Brown.
The Salt Lake City protests resulted in several videos that shocked observers online. An Ogden, Utah police officer was placed on leave after he was caught on video shooting a bean bag round Saturday, reports ABC 4. Another viral video showed a man using a hunting bow and aiming it at protesters. Brown said the man was identified and police were screening criminal charges against him.