COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Prince George's County police are defending an officer after video surfaced on social media of an arrest in which some say excessive force was used.
In a portion of the video, an officer can be seen trying to subdue a suspect Saturday in College Park. Police said it all began hours earlier in Laurel after 21-year-old Giovanti Moschino Young was arrested during a traffic stop.
Police said Young was a passenger in a car that smelled of marijuana. Young complained he was injured and was taken to the hospital. Upon his release and transfer to jail, police said Young unclipped his seatbelt and tried to escape.
"He attempts to kick, attempts to strike, spits at the officer several times and then successfully bites the officer at least once," said deputy chief Hank Stawinski.
Authorities admit force was used, but they said the officer acted accordingly. The officer eventually had to use a stun gun on Young.
Young was also wanted in Howard County on robbery charges.
FOX 5 caught up with Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw at a panel discussion on Monday focused on positive policing and community relations.
He said the department is reviewing the video frame by frame. But at this point, he believes his officers acted with an appropriate use of force for the situation.
“Officers in my department understand if they disrespect someone, if they come off with that kind of attitude, I won’t stand for it,” said Chief Magaw.
He was not mincing words about goals for his department two days after cell phone and dash camera video spread on social media showing the struggle between some of his officers and the 21-year-old Young.
Some are questioning whether excessive force was used. The chief said he doesn't believe so.
“That officer was defending himself,” said Magaw. “He had already been bitten, been kicked. He was trying to subdue a person that had jumped out and was escaping from his car, and it turns out that individual was wanted for an armed robbery.”
Chief Magaw weighed in on the incident after serving as a panelist at the National Black Child Development Institute's 45th annual conference in Arlington. The event brought together policymakers, police, pastors, professionals and parents to talk about dynamics between police and young African Americans.
“There are going to be circumstances where we have to put our hands on people and it always looks bad,” said Chief Magaw. “But these officers need to be able to use amount of force necessary, only the amount of force necessary to make an arrest and that's what happened in this case.”
Chief Magaw told the crowd that in the last three years, he has criminally charged four officers because of their actions in the community. He said when warranted, he would do it again.
But he doesn't believe the officers involved in this incident did anything wrong.
There is currently an internal affairs investigation into the incident, but the chief said the officers involved remain on full duty staff.