Portsmouth police officer suspended without pay amid use of force investigation

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Portsmouth Interim Chief of Police Stephen Jenkins held a Friday afternoon briefing to discuss an investigation into what he called “a concerning use of force” that occurred early Thursday morning.

He said Thursday at 1:30 a.m. detectives were at the George Washington Hwy. Corridor searching for a wanted suspect. During the course of the investigation, he said the detectives overheard men in the area threatening violence against them. The detectives called for backup. Shortly after, an unknown person smashed a window on one of the unmarked police surveillance vehicles.

As those other detectives arrived, they came into contact with two people and took them into custody. Only one person was ultimately arrested, and charged with threat and destruction of city property. Investigators determined the other person taken into custody was not involved. Upon reviewing the incident, it was determined one of the detectives could be seen striking that second individual to the face.

In a press release issued after the press conference, Portsmouth police say that detective came up to the individual that was on the ground and assaulted him. That detective was restrained and immediately removed from the area.

The use of force was reported via standard procedures, in accordance with state law, Jenkins said.

The detective involved in the use of force claim was placed on leave. On Friday morning, warrants were secured for simple assault and the detective was suspended without pay from the department, pending the outcome of this investigation.

Police aired a snippet of body camera video of the incident. It shows a plain clothed detective handcuffing an individual who Jenkins said was on the ground, being compliant. As they were placing the individual into custody, another detective approached and struck the subject in the face.

Jenkins said this incident isn’t representative of his department.

“At no point should anyone have struck him while he was being taken into custody at all,” Jenkins said, noting that the individual was being compliant.

Portsmouth Police are not releasing the name of the detective who was charged and suspended. They are also not releasing the exact surveillance location, since detectives were in that area searching for a homicide suspect.

WAVY News 10’s Hayley Milon was at Friday’s briefing and will have complete coverage throughout the evening.

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