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.”