Leezia Dhalla, press manager at FWD.us, filmed the video and posted it in the early hours of July 14, saying on Twitter, “Tonight I saw an armed police officer for @cvspharmacy punching & choking a man in the middle of the street in #DC. The man was struggling to say ‘I can’t breathe’ & a different security guard had to tell the cop to let up so the man wouldn’t suffocate. Video forthcoming #blm.”
Dhalla said in a later tweet that the incident occurred at 9:40 pm outside the CVS on Vermont Avenue.
Dhalla said she had seen the officer punching the man before she started recording. She wrote, “In the first 20 seconds, the man struggles to breathe (he says ‘I can’t breathe’) as the police officer in the black vest chokes him. At 1:10, the guard in the white tells the police officer to let up. The officer was punching man before my camera recorded this.@CVSHealth #M4BL.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Man Being Restrained in the Video Says ‘I Can’t Breathe’
In the video, a Black man can be seen on the ground trying to get up as he is restrained by a Black officer wearing a vest marked “police.” A man in a white uniform shirt who appears to be a security guard stands near the pair. The restrained man says, “I’m choking” while the officer says “stop resisting.” The officer cannot be seen punching the man in the video.
The restrained man then says, “I can’t breathe” while Dhalla, the woman filming, says, “get off of him, he can’t breathe.”
The restrained man says, “Leave me alone.” The security guard then speaks to the officer, which is inaudible, and the officer replies, “I’m not on his neck, but he keeps moving.”
Dhalla later questioned why the officer was seen restraining the man in the middle of the street when she says his jurisdiction was inside the store.
Dhalla contacted Heavy stating she had spoken with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. She confirmed an officer who she spoke to with the Metropolitan Police said the officer worked for CVS.
Alaina Gertz, Public Affairs Specialist, Metropolitan Police Department, told Heavy in a written statement the person involved was a Special Police Officer and not an MPD officer.
The written statement said the incident happened at the CVS at 1199 Vermont Ave after a shopflifting incident where a man was asked to stop multiple times and return items. He “proceeded to run out of the store passing all points of sale without making payment.
“Once outside the store [he] fell to the ground where he was placed under arrest. [He] was transported to George Washington hospital for evaluation and was then taken to the Second District for processing.”
CVS Came Under Fire Recently in a TikTok Video Posted by Celebrity Chef Brian Hill
On July 8, CVS Pharmacy posted a message on their official account stating they would be donating nearly $600 million towards addressing inequality and racism, and to “advance employee, community, and public policy initiatives.”
“While we know that CVS Health alone cannot erase the toll that 400 years of institutionalized racism and discrimination has taken on the Black community, we recognize that we have a role to play in living up to the potential the future holds,” CVS wrote.
Twitter users responded to the post, with one writing, “please do something about the racist manager of your CVS store located at 5795 Sunset in Miami. The video of what happened is on TicToc. Thank you!”
Chef Brian Hill filmed a TikTok video on July 12 where he criticized the Miami CVS. The former contestant on the television show Top Chef said, “Definitely shots fired on this s***. I’m a Black man that owns one of … three black restaurants here in South Miami. This CVS Pharmacy at … 5795 Sunset Drive, the manager followed me around yesterday. I fed his employees during COVID lockdown, I gave them free food … they’re just cashiers at CVS but they treated me well.
“The manager, the Hispanic manager, followed me around yesterday morning, on Saturday morning, and said, ‘you look suspicious’ … he said, ‘don’t be offended by this, all Black people steal … so if you didn’t do anything you shouldn’t be upset.'”
Heavy has contacted CVS for further comment.
More information will be posted as this story develops.
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