A Tallahassee Police Officer was placed on administrative leave after a video circulating on social media showed the officer using force while making an arrest. The department released the body camera video of the arrest Monday, March 28th.
The president of the Big Bend Chapter of the Florida PBA, Richard Murphy, issued a statement urging the public to reserve judgement.
“Every day Tallahassee police officers exercise their judgement and utilize their training when responding to an incident where a crime has occurred. That is precisely what Police Officer Shawn Wright did when he responded to a report that an individual had fled the scene of an accident,” said Murphy.
The full statement is provided below.
The incident occurred near Railroad Square on Friday, March 25th, after the suspect, Dalton McKnight, was reported hitting another vehicle with his truck and leaving the scene. McKnight was charged with a hit and run and resisting arrest, both misdemeanor offenses, and was released on a $250 bail.
Tallahassee Police Department Chief Lawrence Revell told WCTV local news that the officer, Shawn Wright, is on leave while the department conducts an investigation. Wright has been with TPD for eight years.
The officer’s body camera footage shows the officer approaching the suspect and ordering him to put his hands behind his back. McKnight asked, “Why?” The suspect stepped away from the officer pulling his arm out several times. Wright warned him: “Listen, if you pull away from me one more time, I’m going to take you to the ground. It’s gonna hurt.”
McKnight, who had a knife visible in his pocket, made another attempt to pull his arm free, then Wright maneuvered to take the suspect to the ground. “I don’t like it when you pull away from me because I don’t know what you’re doing,” Wright told the man. “Do you understand me?”
Moments later, once McKnight was apprehended, the other office on scene asked him if he was hurt, and McKnight responded, “No.”
“Anytime I see the use of force — we’ve said repeatedly use of force (doesn’t) look pretty — I’m always concerned,” Revell told the Democrat. “But my concern is simply to make sure that what we are seeing is within policy and procedure and state statute and meets the constitutional requirement of reasonableness.”
Revell also said they would handle the investigation swiftly and transparently.
Big Bend Chapter of the Florida PBA
“Every day Tallahassee police officers exercise their judgement and utilize their training when responding to an incident where a crime has occurred. That is precisely what Police Officer Shawn Wright did when he responded to a report that an individual had fled the scene of an accident. When the individual returned to his vehicle, Officer Wright attempted to detain the individual, who was in possession of a knife and resisted arrest.
Officer Wright was then required to use reasonable force to effectuate the arrest. A video taken of the incident and posted on social media by bystanders has unfairly characterized Officer Wright’s actions as an excessive use of force. We believe this false narrative has created a rush to judgement before the video has been properly reviewed from all angles. The individual even stated that he did not sustain any injuries. While it’s easy to second guess our officers during difficult situations, it’s critical that the facts are fully presented and when they are in this case, we are confident that the public will see Police Officer Wright did exactly what he was trained to do. He has the full support of his brother and sister officers at the PBA.”
That officer definitely didn’t look too scared to do his job and has to use force against a citizen before explaining why. Nothing to see here
@ A Skeptic ……… That is why several “Misdemeanors” need to change to “Felonies”. “Hit and Run” being one of them.
I saw the citizen video and the body cam video, the only problem I have with Officer Wright is that he should have bounced the guy off the ground a little harder . McKnight was clearly resisting arrest and I believe Officer Wright showed extraordinary restraint. Officer Wright merely picked McKnight up, turned him upside down and placed him on the ground, Officer Wright could have gotten more aggressive and still have been ok. Don’t resist arrest, you can fight it later with a lawyer.
Suspect clearly under the influence and resisting. Officer gained control of the situation after a verbal warning of the impending escalation of force. Had the officer not acted swiftly, the suspect could have retrieved his knife and we could be reading a completely different article…
@David T. Hawkings…
Several years ago my wife and I were stopped at the light at Hartsfield and Mission, waiting to turn right from Westbound Hartsfield. We made the turn and as we headed down Mission, saw a bicyclist also on Mission approach the intersection we’d just left. The car that had been behind us executed a “rolling stop”, hitting the bicycle. The driver didn’t slow down so I pulled onto the shoulder and got the tag number when the vehicle passed us. We went back to the intersection to check in the cyclist. He claimed to be unhurt but the bike was badly damaged. We put it in the back of the truck and gave the cyclist a ride home. I called TPD to report the accident and gave them the tag number. TPD was uninterested. Despite the hit-and-run and rendering the bicycle a paperweight, it was a misdemeanor and unless the “victim” filed a complaint TPD would take no action.
Sometimes, there just is no justice….
the officer did EXACTLY what was needed. he even took steps to prevent the drunk from getting hurt when he controlled the drop.
Officer Hothead is lucky he didn’t kill the guy. He needs to be off the street. Lacks emotional qualifications to do the job without creating legal and social difficulties for professional officers.
@ Pat: good obvservation on the race of the perp.
I think a lot of folks did not even need to watch the body cam footage to determine with 100% certanity the perp was a white boy due to the media reaction and the lack of crump and sharpton.
Who decided that fleeing the scene of an accident and resisting arrest are misdemeanor.? One of the factors in deciding felony or misdemeanor is the degree which the crime affects society and resisting arrest is a serious crime on the fabric of society and should be treated as such. Downplaying the seriousness of resisting arrest is the same sick thought process that allows hoodlums in California to steal up to $900 without being arrested and the same path the leadership of TPD appears to be taking Tallahassee.
I feel he did was he thought was right,you hve to realize that the person left the scene and had a knife on him.I stand behind the officer, T.p.d.are my protecters .
Teach your children to respect all law enforcement officers. Be polite and do what they say. The kid appeared to be high on drugs or alcohol. I’m fed up with Police Officers being villainized for doing their job. The Officer did nothing wrong. If the kid had been black, Bubba Crump and Allen Sharpton would already have been in front of all the liberal fake news station camera. Cops deal with crap like this all day long only to be treated unfairly by management and government. Axe yourself, do you want law and order in your community or should we be more like New York City where “catch and release” is a way of life.
Watched the video:
suspect was defiant
female officer was next to useless
Officer Shawn Wright was on his own and did his job.
My interpretation is that his head did not hit the ground and the suspect was not compliant. I believe the police officer used quick judgment and protected himself, the suspect, and everyone else from harm.
The suspect was trying to be in charge of the situation and the officer simply shut that nonsense down immediately.
Thank you for our men in blue and green for what you do.
HOW is “Hit and Run” a Misdemeanor? It should be a Felony for sure. I can understand why that move is not approved mainly because not all Officers could pull it off but, this Officer had no problem doing it. That Phone Video CLEARLY showed that the guys head did NOT hit the ground at all until the Officer rolled him over and the guy himself laid his head down. The Body Cams clearly showed he was resisting. I do believe that Officers should be more forthcoming with why someone is being arrested if asked. The most disturbing thing about what I saw in the Videos is when the Officer tells the Suspect that he doesn’t HAVE to tell him why he is being arrested. THAT needs to change. The Police Reform that I would like to see in ALL Law Enforcement is Training for Martial Arts and for “Hand To Hand” Combat. I think that would go a long way to protecting our Law Enforcement. Just do what the Officer tells you and DON’T Resist.
Poke the bull and get the horns.