ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania police officer was justified when he pressed his knee into a man’s head while restraining him outside a hospital, a prosecutor said Friday after reviewing an incident that was caught on video and generated allegations of police brutality.
The officer and a second police officer used reasonable force to restrain the man, who was agitated, obviously intoxicated and posing a danger to himself and others, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said.
“I have concluded that there is absolutely no evidence to support filing criminal charges against either of the Allentown police officers involved in this incident,” Martin said in a news release. He said he didn’t believe disciplinary action was warranted, either.
Surveillance video of the July 11 incident, released this week by Allentown police, showed the unnamed officer putting his knee on the man’s head and neck area twice while he was being restrained a few steps from the emergency room entrance — the first time for eight seconds, the second for 20 seconds.
The man was identified as Edward Borrero Jr., 37, of Allentown. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Borrero, who has yet to enter a plea, could not immediately be located for comment.
Activists against police brutality marched in downtown Allentown in the wake of the incident, demanding the officer be fired and face criminal charges and asserting that police violated their own policy against neck restraints.
But Martin said the officer put his knee on Borrero’s head, not his neck, “so as to safely, efficiently and effectively keep him from moving his body to avoid being handcuffed and placed into custody.”
He said the officer briefly put his knee back on Borrero’s head because Borrero was spitting at the officers.
The videotaped incident occurred nearly seven weeks after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, for nearly eight minutes. Floyd’s death in police custody sparked global protests over police brutality and racial injustice.