ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Missouri State Representative Bruce Franks, Jr. released police body camera footage of his own arrest in December of 2014 showing officers appearing to smile while discussing the use of mace and physical force.
The body cam video, released on Franks' Facebook page Sunday, depicts officers and protesters during the protests of the death of teenager Antonio Martin in 2014.
Martin was shot and killed by an officer at a Mobil gas station in the 6800 block of Hanley Road. The officer was responding to a report of shoplifting and said Martin pointed a gun at him.
The protests unfolded near the site of Martin’s death, hours after he was shot.
During the video, which was recorded by a Berkeley officer's body camera according to Franks' post, police can be seen using mace on protesters while in handcuffs. Officers can be heard commanding protesters stay on the ground.
At one point during the video, the officer wearing the body cam can be heard exclaiming, “Man, I went through a can of mace.” A woman near the officer can be heard saying. “You were macing people while they were already subdued!”
The officer wearing the camera later tells another officer about the woman calling him out saying, “One of the [expletive] white [expletive] caught me spraying everybody, so, she’s on my [expletive], so I’m hiding back here for a little bit.”
The video later shows another officer saying, “I got a couple of good licks in on somebody,” to which the officer wearing the body camera said, “This is a terrible place to fight, look at all these [expletive] lights and everything else.”
The other officer says, “Some guy was kneeling down and I [expletive] kicked him like there was no [expletive] tomorrow.”
Numerous times during the video, officers speaking to the officer wearing the body camera can be seen looking at the body camera and back at the officer in a cautious manner.
Rep. Franks, Jr. posted the video to his Facebook Friday, November 23 with the following statement:
On Dec 24th, 2014, the death of Antonio Martin sparked public outrage and protest. During the protest, there were peacekeepers on hand including myself, whose role was to mediate interactions between law enforcement and civilians. Since our goal was to facilitate conversations and manage tensions, we should have been able to partner with law enforcement officials present, but unfortunately that was not the case. Instead, officers reacted with excessive force, even against peacekeepers, who raised concerns about their colleagues conduct, which is far too common.
As I continue to see police brutality locally and nationally, I wanted to share the unfiltered reality of these interactions, so I am releasing footage from the 2014 protest. My release of the Antonio Martin protest footage, is not to fuel tension between law enforcement and civilians, but to give insight into the experiences of communities who are disproportionately subjected to police brutality. Moreover, I hope this level of transparency will highlight, the need for reform.
A suit has been filed, the Arch City Defenders are representing Rep Franks. It was first filed on the 2 year Anniversary of the incident.
No matter my capacity, I will continue to advocate for transparency and accountability within policing, as this video shares an all too common reality. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Jr. said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right”, and that is what I am willing to do for my community.
News 4 reached out to St. Louis County PD, whose officers were involved in the incident. The department confirmed the officers in the video are still with the department. They only gave the following statement about the video released:
We can only speak for officers with our department. Here is our statement:
We can confirm that some of our police officers were involved in the protest shown in the video from 4 years ago in December of 2014. The protest turned violent, and subjects were taken into custody. Any use of force that occurred was documented and internal investigations were conducted as part of that review. We can not further comment on the actions taken by officers that night due to pending litigation.
It is unclear at this time who edited the video, whether it be police or a member of Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr.'s legal team. Franks was undergoing surgery Monday and unavailable for comment.
Franks is represented by ArchCity Defenders, and while no one from his legal team was available for an interview, they released the following statement:
Bruce Franks’s video is consistent with what we hear from far too many clients who have survived brutality and misconduct at the hands of law enforcement. Since 2014, we have filed over a dozen lawsuits challenging unaccountable state violence-- and a majority of these cases stem from a militarized police response to people engaging in their First Amendment right to protest.
In the case of Mr. Franks, we’ve been fighting for justice for two and a half years, and we will continue to work for justice not only for him, but for countless others in the region who have been seriously harmed and traumatized.
News 4 also reached out to Bel-Ridge Police (where the third officer in the lawsuit was from) and the Berkeley Police Department for comment with no response.