Law enforcement expert breaks down Woonsocket Autumnfest chaos

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — After multiple arrests last week at Woonsocket’s Autumnfest, parents and Black Lives Matter Rhode Island PAC continue to speak out against what they say was excessive, and unnecessary use of force by police.

The group also cites “George Floyd tactics” used by police, referencing his killing with a knee on his neck.

Woonsocket police said they responded after a man was defending his son from three teenage girls.

The girls were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after refusing to leave. The altercation sparked the chaos.

Police Chief Thomas Oates told ABC 6 News in a statement that “a review of the arrests is underway as well as their treatment at headquarters which is all on video.”

BLM RI PAC and the parents of those involved held a press conference at World War II Veterans Memorial Park Tuesday evening.

“We have to answer and have to ask the question, ‘Whether or not it was necessary to throw these 14-year-old girls on the ground’,” asked Harrison Tuttle, executive director of BLM RI PAC.

Alongside parents of those affected in Woonsocket, Tuttle continued saying, “Was it necessary to have officers try to deescalate a situation in which the girls were already leaving?”

Law enforcement analyst Todd McGhee analyzed the “excessive force” and “George Floyd tactics” with video from the chaos.

He told ABC 6 that “once an officer arrives on scene, all elicit behavior should stop the first level of force for a police officer is their presence.”

Referencing video from the event last week, he said, “The knee placement is something that needs to be looked at. The George Floyd incident, we had an uninterrupted 8-minute video that showed exactly what Derek Chauvin was doing. In this particular case, we don’t have that much information in the form of a lengthy video.”

McGhee said while it is unfair to compare this incident to the killing of George Floyd, police officers must maintain attention to detail.

“If the knee does move, slip, slide, or however you want to articulate it, that’s when fellow officers need to be mindful of their brother or sister applying the technique,” he concluded.

Police said the complaints received have come from the mothers of the teens arrested.

The man seen in the video where it appears a knee is on his head has not filed any complaints.

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