VIDEO: Man claims he was assaulted by Norfolk police officer

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 12 at 6:17 PM

NORFOLK -- A Newport News man is questioning the action of Norfolk police officers after a confrontation at Harborfest this weekend.

Jeremiah Schwenk said he was trying to use his cell phone to video police officers who were questioning his friend when he was approached by an officer.

Schwenk posted video of his confrontation with the officer on YouTube and it was later posted to the website LiveLeak.Com.

The video shows an unidentified police officer walk up to Schwenk and ask if he could help him. Schwenk said he was just videotaping officers questioning his friend.


"I didn't think that he would approach me," Schwenk said. "As you can see, I didn't approach him. I stay a very safe distance away and when he came up to me I said, 'sir, this is a cell phone. It's not a threat to you.'"

The tense exchange between the officer and Schwenk continues for nearly a minute before Schwenk moves his camera to continue shooting over the shoulder of the police officer.

Eventually, Schwenk's friend is released by the officers he was talking with and the officer talking with Schwenk tells him he can hold his camera on the sidewalk and continue shooting.

But the confrontation escalated moments later when Schwenk asked the officer for his name and badge number.

In the video, you hear the officer identify himself as Sergeant Peele. After he says his name, he tells Schwenk "that's all [he] needs to know."

The police department has confirmed the officer in the video is Sgt. Peele and said he is currently assigned to the department's Homeland Security Division.

Schwenk continues to press the officer for his badge number and then the officer smacks the camera and tells Schwenk to get the camera's light out of his face.

The picture then gets shaky as hands cover the camera's lens and you hear Schwenk yell out "That's assault! Hey, That's assault!"

Schwenk said he was shocked by Sgt. Peele's behavior.

"I wouldn't expect that, especially in a crowd of people. You know, thousands of people are there. Why are you going to do that?"

The officer calls for his supervisor to come over and Schwenk continues asking for the officer's name and badge number, at which point the officer tells him to leave or be arrested.

When Schwenk asks the officer why he would be arrested, the officer tells him he is blocking the flow of pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. The officer tells him to move along and can be heard saying "you really don't want to continue this."

The video ends with an officer calling for a sergeant to come over and Schwenk continuing to ask for the officer's name and badge number.

In response to a request for comment about the video on Thursday, a spokesman for the Norfolk Police Department, Officer Daniel Hudson, said the department was aware of the video. Hudson said the video had been referred to the Officer of Professional Standards for an internal investigation.

Schwenk said he would like to see the officer disciplined and hopes the department conducts training to keep similar confrontations from happening in the future.

"You need to train these people better," Schwenk said. "Let me know, hey, you're going to be recorded. You're police officers, they have the right to do so."

 

 

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