Burlington, VT -- Burlington police are defending the conduct of their out of control Officers, Ethan Czyzewski and Ryan Rabideau, who were caught on camera over the weekend repeatedly punching 20 year old Shane Langevin, who is face down on the ground after being tased. The department's Chief Michael Schirling says this is consistent with the officers' training.
In the video, which was posted online on Sunday, a police officer is seen punching the man on the ground at least seven times, while the other officer pepper sprays a good samaritan named Michael Mazza who attempted to stop the attack. Mazza was later arrested for "impeding a public officer".
"During the struggle, a crowd of people was yelling at officers. As the officers tried to get Langevin into handcuffs, staff from nearby bars and restaurants assisted officers in keeping the crowd back. Despite those efforts, a man later identified as Michael Mazza (32) of Milton, approached officers with clenched fists as they struggled on the ground with Langevin. Mazza stopped after being sprayed with pepper spray. Mazza was taken into custody without further incident. He was lodged for Impeding a Public Officer. Bail was set at $750. He has no known criminal history in Vermont." A press release from the department released on Monday evening stated.
Throughout the video witnesses are heard screaming at the police about their actions.
Witnesses insist the officer was hitting Langevin in the head, but Burlington Police claim they only hit Langevin in the back.
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"These strikes are consistent with officer training and are referred to as 'distractionary strikes' done in hopes of distracting or stunning someone to assist in gaining control," Schirling wrote. "Throughout the encounter Langevin was asked and ordered to comply and stop resisting."
Deputy Chief Bovat also spoke to the press, stating that Langevin had struck the officers prior to what we see in the video.
"That's the scary thing about video and social media these days... is when you see only a segment, it's hard to truly grasp and understand that totality of the situation," Deputy Chief Bovat stated. "But we are not trained to strike people in retaliation. We are trained to use the appropriate amount of force, a reasonable amount of force, to control a situation."
What we do see is an officer pummeling a man who is face down on the ground. If these actions were based on events that took place before the video, and not what was presently happening, how could it be anything other than retaliatory?
Neither officer was wearing a body camera (convenient) at the time of the incident, but officers who arrived at the scene after the beating were. The department has released that footage on their website along with a press release.
Langevin has been charged with simple assault, assault on a Law Enforcement Officer (2 counts), resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
Since all these officers are always just "doing what they are trained to do", perhaps it is time for an overhaul of their training.