29, August 2016
Disturbing video has been released showing police officers pepper spraying an 84-year-old black woman inside her home in the US state of Oklahoma. The footage, taken on August 7, shows Muskogee police officers kicking in Geneva Smith’s front door apparently in pursuit of her son, Arthur Paul Blackmon, Fox 23 News reported. Blackmon, 56, had allegedly run a stop sign and refused to pull over when ordered by police. Officers followed Blackmon to his mother’s home and demanded he come outside. They applied a Taser on him when he refused to comply even though he had his hands up in the air.
A female officer then turned towards the elderly woman, yelling at her to turn around or she would spray. The footage then goes on to show Smith being sprayed in the face. She falls to the floor and her hands are secured behind her back. “I just came out and asked what was going on and they just pepper sprayed me,” she later told the media. Smith, who suffered a panic attack while in police custody, has accused the officers of using excessive force. She said she was getting a lawyer and planning to take legal action against police.
Muskogee police chief Rex Eskridge has not apologized and stopped short of condemning the officers’ conduct. “Videos can’t give a full sense of what happened, but at the same time, they do either validate or expose any warts that you may have,” Eskridge told Fox 23.
Scott Wood, the city’s attorney, defended the officer’s decision to use pepper spray as understandable “given the totality of the circumstances.” The use of unnecessary force by police against African Americans has sparked nationwide protests in the past two years, giving birth to the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement.