Officer is fired after TikTok videos show his arrest of black woman
By Christina Morales
A police officer in Georgia was fired as of Friday after videos on TikTok that drew millions of views showed him using a Taser in the arrest of a Black woman, the authorities said.
The Police Department in Gwinnett County, which is about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta, said it had begun its investigation into the officer, Michael Oxford, before the video spread widely on TikTok.
Investigators examined whether Oxford, who is white, used de-escalation techniques and whether he violated departmental policy on Aug. 18 when he arrested the woman, Kyndesia Smith.
“One of our core values is courtesy,” the department said in a statement. “We strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that promotes mutual respect with the community and our peers. The investigation in this case has shown that Officer Oxford violated our policy and did not meet our core values.”
It was the latest in a series of episodes that have reverberated across the country as racial unrest continues to brew after the death of George Floyd in May.
Efforts to reach Oxford and Smith were not successful Sunday evening.
The episode in Gwinnett began after the police said they received a “property damage call.” When Oxford arrived, he said he was told that a bottle had been thrown at a car, according to a police report.
What happened was caught on surveillance video, and he was directed to a house where someone had been seen on the video picking up the bottle before the police arrived, the report said.
When Oxford got to the house, he saw a woman who matched the description of the person in the surveillance footage who picked up the bottle before the police arrived, he wrote. He attempted to speak to her but could not because Smith and others were yelling at him, the report said.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Smith tells the officer in one of several videos posted on TikTok.
Oxford told her she could go to jail for obstructing his investigation. In one of the videos, Smith responded: “It doesn’t matter. You’re on our property. We did not call you. I’m not going anywhere.”
The videos do not show what happened immediately leading up to Smith’s arrest, and it was not clear who had recorded them.
The officer told Smith she was under arrest, pulled at her and used a Taser as she fought being handcuffed. Smith fell to the ground onto a patch of bushes near the porch where she had been standing, the report said.
In a second video, Smith could be heard saying, “Call the police, Momma.” Oxford, standing over her, attempts to handcuff one of her wrists.
“Don’t touch me,” Smith says. She waves her arm away from Oxford, who continues his effort to handcuff her. Onlookers are heard yelling for him to stop.
“You’re on her neck,” a person off camera says. “Do you not understand what you’re doing?” Oxford tells Smith to stop resisting.
In a third video, Smith is sitting upright and struggling with Oxford who says “Give me your hands” several times.
Toward the end of a video, another white officer arrives and helps to handcuff Smith.
Although Oxford was fired, the department did say there was probable cause to arrest Smith for obstruction of a law enforcement officer and that his use of force was within the department’s policy.
Smith was taken to the Gwinnett County Jail, where she was released early Wednesday morning. The status of the charges against her and whether she had a lawyer were unclear Sunday.