Florence police release body cam video of viral arrest; chief says officers’ actions ‘appropriate’

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Florence police on Friday released 18 minutes of body cam footage, a day after video of the arrest of a man at a gas station went viral.

In releasing the footage, Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said the video showed his officers’ actions were “justified and appropriate” during the arrest of Michael Stanford on disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and criminal mischief charges.

Tyler added that although neither Stanford nor his family or someone representing them filed a complaint over the arrest, the criticism leveled at the officers by social media users who watched video of Stanford screaming for help and falling over while handcuffed were enough “to warrant an investigation.”

“After investigating this matter thoroughly, it has been concluded that the officer's actions in this case are justified and appropriate,” Tyler said in a statement posted to the department’s Facebook page late Friday afternoon along with the 18-minute video. “Because this incident has become part of the public discourse and has garnered much public attention, the matter warrants a public response. Therefore, we are posting camera footage below.”

The chief said the viral video posted Thursday on social media showing Stanford screaming “help” several times and falling over while handcuffed and crouched “is only a few seconds long,” while the footage released by police shows “multiple perspectives of the incident.”

The body cam footage begins with a Florence patrol car following Stanford’s vehicle into a BP gas station for failing to signal.

A caption added to the footage explains that officers needed to use flashlights to see into the vehicle, which was darkly tinted.

Officers ask Stanford to roll down his windows to get out of the car while Stanford, who appears to be talking to his mother on his cell phone, telling her the officers are trying to bust the window and harassing him.

“They’re trying to beat me again,” he says as officers attempt to get him out of the car while he honks his horn. “Why are y’all beating me again?”

An officer then uses a knife to cut Stanford’s seat belt and grabs his leg. He is eventually removed from the vehicle.

One officer grabs Stanford’s arm while subduing him as Stanford screams for help.

Stanford’s hands are placed behind his back as he is handcuffed, while he appears to stumble.

“I can’t breathe,” Stanford shouts several times. “I didn’t do nothing. Get off my knee, I’m not moving.”

“Stop resisting,” one of the officers responds. “We’re good. We got him.”

Stanford then appears to shake his legs and says, “I’m dying. They beat me for nothing.”

An officer then picks Stanford off the floor.

A short while later, a man who identifies himself as Stanford’s father says he received a call indicating Michael Stanford was pulled over. A woman, who appears to be Michael Stanford’s mother, says Michael Stanford said officers beat him.

An officer at the scene denied the allegations.

“None of us are interested in beating anybody,” the officer said. “It takes way too much energy.”

Stanford was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and third-degree criminal mischief.

“This will be the police department’s final public response to this incident,” Tyler said.

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