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Was this KCPD officer wrong or doing his job? Thousands weigh in on Westport fight video

Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 06:34:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A video showing the aftermath of a fight Saturday night in Westport is sparking debate on whether the Kansas City, Missouri, police officer's actions were warranted. 

Thousands of people watched the video Sunday on social media, which was captured by several witnesses on cellphone cameras at the Westport Art Fair. 

Two women and two KCPD officers are featured in the videos. It appears the women have been in a fight surrounded by onlookers as officers try to separate them.

An officer can be seen forcefully chopping down on the arm of one woman, who looks like she has a handful of the other woman's hair.

After the officer's hand comes down, the woman — who was already being restrained by another KCPD officer — stumbles back and falls on the ground.

The officer who was initially restraining her can be seen helping the woman back to her feet, while another video show the second woman involved being dragged back several feet by a male bystander.

One video is shot from behind the woman who's hair is being pulled and  obstructs the view of the officer's forceful blow.

Another video from an angle inside a nearby business has a better angle of the officer's chop, but it's from farther away and partially obscured at times by bystanders.

More than 1,000 people have commented on Facebook.

Some say the officer used excessive force, especially in apparently striking a woman. 

Others did not believe it was a big deal. 

"It just looks very dramatic from that vantage point," said Lauren Blackburn, who witnessed the incident. "He's bigger, he brings his hand down, they're low. It looked bad but that's not what happened. From our angle, he just broke a fight up."

The two women who recorded the videos didn't want to be on camera, but Blackburn said she and her friends saw the whole thing while sitting on the patio of Harry's. She said the women in the altercation were pulling each other's hair. 

"He broke up a fight where they could've potentially really hurt each other," said Blackburn, who works as a bartender.

KCPD released a statement Sunday with a statement that read:

KCPD works hard every day to protect the public and ensure police presence is available to intervene when conflicts arise.

The video shows officers and civilian attendees forced to separate fighting women. One woman appears to be actively fighting someone or resisting an officer. To release her grip, another officer appears to forcefully slap downward at her arm/hands. This, coupled with her fighting and/or resisting, likely caused her to fall into the direction of the other officer and onto the ground. Officers resume taking women into custody. The video concludes with one of the women describing the fight had been a previous and ongoing issue among the women at the fair.

Regardless of males or females that are resisting; officers train in tactics to safely bring these situations under control.  Some of the methods officers train in include strikes to release grasps of objects or other people.  In this case as in all cases that involve force to bring situations under control, a thorough review by supervisory and command staff of those tactics will take place.  If needed a system of corrective measures is in place.

We understand and appreciate the public’s concern whenever officers are forced to physically intervene to bring a fight to an end.  More information will be released as soon as possible.