A Massachusetts state trooper was caught on video pepper spraying a man for recording him during an anti-police brutality protest in Boston Thursday.
The video began going viral since it was uploaded Thursday and now Massachusetts State Police say they will conduct a “thorough and unbiased” investigation to determine whether the cop violated the department’s policy on using pepper spray.
The Massachusetts State Police policy on the use of force states that troopers may only use force to “Effect an arrest; Restrain or subdue an individual resisting a lawful seizure; or Protect themselves or others from physical harm.” The policy states that pepper spray “shall not be used on passive resisters who offer NO physical resistance” (emphasis in original).
Since Moy was not under arrest, was not being detained, and was not fighting with the police or anyone else in any way, this incident is a clear and obvious violation of the policy.
Many departments adhere to the use of force continuum established by the United States Department of Justice that states pepper spray should only be used if physical presence, verbal commands and empty-handed submission tactics have failed.
According to WCVB:
Massachusetts State Police have begun an internal investigation into the incident, according to state police spokesman David Procopio.
“We have begun an internal investigation into the action seen in the video to determine whether it constitutes a violation of departmental policy,” Procopio said in a statement. “The department’s investigation will be thorough and unbiased.”
The video shows police attempting to move protesters back during protests Thursday night in Boston.
A trooper in the video can be heard saying “Go, now, you’re going to get sprayed.”
The trooper then appears to point a canister toward Moy.
Moy then turns the camera to show a liquid covering the side of his face. He said the reaction of state police in his case serves as an example of the tension currently felt across the country between protesters and police.
“It was very painful at the time,” Moy said. “When the officer pepper sprayed me that was an example, to a much less extent because I am still alive, but it was using force that exceeds necessity.”
Moy said he was following the trooper’s instructions to move away.
“I had no intention of going head to head with officers, I was backing off,” Moy said.
This is how Moy described the incident on Youtube:
I was filming some arrests that were unnecessarily forceful and aggressive, and I tried to catch when an officer threatened to run us over with his motorcycle. Unfortunately, that footage was lost but one of the cops was pissed that I was filming so he threatened to spray me. I blocked the first shot with my phone, but that second shot got me clean. Ouch!
Back in October, a Texas cop was caught on video pepper spraying a man who was recording him, which led to him being placed on paid administrative leave while the Waller Police Department “investigated” the incident.
Today, three months later, the department has yet to issue an update on the investigation.