Man in handcuffs after St. Louis police officer hits suspect with baton. (Image from YouTube)
St. Louis (KSDK) -- The St. Louis police chief and Mayor Francis Slay are responding to a YouTube video that appears to show a St. Louis officer repeatedly hitting a man with a baton.
The video was shot by someone in a car on New Year's Day at Joel's Shell Foodmart at I-55 and Arsenal and then posted on YouTube. The gas station owner said the victim had been disorderly and abusive to the officer.
The department said it first learned of the video on Tuesday morning and found it to be extremely disturbing and Internal Affairs is investigating.
During an interview with KMOX on Wednesday morning, Chief Dan Isom said the department takes it very seriously and that everyone who was a part of the incident is being interviewed, including the person who shot the video.
Chief Isom said even in incidents when the use of force is deemed appropriate, there are procedures that must be followed afterwards. Investigators will be looking into the officer's actions following what happened on the video and if they were not followed, then that could lead to discipline.
The officer's personal record will be considered if any discipline is ordered, according to Chief Isom.
The officer has already been placed on administrative duty pending the results of the investigation.
Chief Isom refused to do an on camera interview with NewsChannel 5.
Mayor Francis Slay posted a blog about the incident:
" It looks bad, and most likely is. I cannot imagine anything that could have happened before (or after) the recorded incident to justify or explain the officer's actions.
"No arrests were made; no reports were filed. The department says it knows who the officer is and is investigating. It would be useful for the witnesses to come forward.
"I will let you know what happens."
Slay said the St. Louis police board will ultimately decide the officer's fate.
The American Civil Liberties Union is also watching the investigation.
"I know there are many fine officers out there now doing the best job they can but there are also many officers out there who will abuse their authority," said Redditt Hudson, an ACLU spokesman.
And the officer's attorney, John Bouhasin, said the police department has precluded his client from making any statements until the investigation is over. Bouhasin went on to say he's extremely disappointed at some city officials who have commented before all of the facts are known.