Wilkes-Barre, PA — A disturbing video surfaced this week showing a Wilkes-Barre police officer appear to kick a handcuffed suspect in the head and stomp on his neck while he was detained on the ground.
In spite of the video, Officer Kevin Novackowski has been cleared by two internal investigations.
Because police tried to suppress it, the video never came up until it was played in the case of another Wilkes-Barre cop. The video was played to defend another officer, Marc Labar, by showing just how bad some cops can be. As the Times Leader notes, the union that represents Wilkes-Barre police presented the video to demonstrate not only that Labar’s actions were appropriate, but that there were clear disparities in the way officers were treated under the administration of then-Chief Marcella Lendacky.
According to a nationally recognized criminal justice consultant who looked over the video at the request of the Times Leader, the video clearly demonstrates excessive force on the part of Novackowksi.
According to the report, police were arresting Eric Conahan after they claimed he was parked in a “high drug, crime and prostitution area” and looked "suspicious."
Police say that during the interaction, Conahan resisted the officers and had to be tasered. However, as the video below shows, Conahan was not resisting at the time of the kick and was handcuffed when Novackowski kicked him in the head.
According to the Times Leader, a source leaked them the video because they were afraid police would try to delete it to protect their officer.
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Sherrielee Conahan, 25, who was with her husband Eric during the arrest said she tried to get the motel's surveillance footage to vindicate her husband, but said police had already confiscated it.
“The cops came and took all copies of the video because they knew they did wrong,” Sherrielee said.
As stated above, Novackowski was cleared twice for this crime caught on video. As the Times Leader reports, Novackowski, who was not the subject of the arbitration, has been cleared in two internal investigations. One was conducted before the arbitration and the other after the police union presented the video as evidence at Labar’s labor proceeding.
In a prepared statement to the Times Leader, the PBA said the union members “involved in this incident have been cleared of any wrongdoing on more than one occasion by the former police administration. Therefore, at this time, we feel there is no need to comment on the specific actions of the members involved.”
As you watch the video below, remember that those who claim to protect and serve the citizens of Wilkes-Barre say that kicking a handcuffed man in the face deserves no punishment whatsoever.
This should be expected however, as this is the same department who sicced a K9 on a homeless man for daring to sleep in a public park.
If you'd like to peacefully voice your concern over the lack of punishment for the officer in the video below, you can do so on the department's Facebook page, here.