Uhurus allege police beating in St. Pete - FOX 13 News

Uhurus allege police beating in St. Pete

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The Uhuru Movement claimed to have video of a police beating that occurred in St. Petersburg's Silver Lake Park November 8, 2013.

The African-American activist group called a news conference in park, and alleged beating victim Jernorris Green was among those who spoke.

However, the video, which was posted on one of the group's websites, does not support the rhetoric.

"Clearly they attacked Jernorris without any provocation at all," Uhuru leader Chimurenga Waller claimed at the news conference.

Another leader, Diop Olugbala, described "...Jernorris Green, an African who was savagely beaten and arrested by St. Petersburg police."

The video shows Green and Officer James Regula in a confrontation that lasted several minutes. St. Petersburg police spokesman Michael Puetz said Officer Regula attempted to question a truant 15-year old on probation, and Green prevented him from taking the juvenile into custody.

According to Puetz, the video starts after Green had been told he was going to be arrested for obstruction. The video shows the officer waiting for backup, stun gun drawn, while Green declined to sit on a bench and wait.

At one point, Green starts to walk away, Officer Regula reaches for Green's arm, and Green slaps the officer's hand away.

"That does constitute a violation of the law. It's battery on a police officer," Puetz said.

Green's account at Thursday's news conference: "So as I try to leave, he tells me I can't go nowhere. So I'm asking him, ‘sir, why can't go nowhere? He saying, ‘you just gotta sit here,' so I sat down. So I had to think about it. So I asked him if I was under arrest, he said, ‘no.' So as I get up, he takes me down in an arm bar, so we on the ground wrestling, so I get up and I stays there until the other officers get there, so they took me to jail."

In the video, Green is never shown sitting down, nor wrestling with the solo officer. When backup officers arrived, Egula and two other officers quickly took Green to the ground and handcuffed him as he struggled.

The handcuffing took approximately 35 seconds. Green was not struck at any point before being placed in a police cruiser.

The police spokesman did confirm a related allegation by the Uhurus: At least two cell phones were confiscated because Officer Regula thought recording his voice without his permission violated Florida law.

"What the officer was ignorant of, apparently at that point, was that once it's coupled with the video, there's no restriction to [recording audio]," he said.

Puetz added that a supervisor educated the officer and returned the phones to their owners.

Or as Uhuru leader Olugbala put it: "If it was not for the intervention of the Uhuru movement, the camera phones would have never been retrieved, and the evidence of this attack on Jernorris and the African community would have been forever gone."

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