Videos Show Sioux City Officer Push Black Man Onto Table At Perkins, Aim Taser At Him

Videos have quickly circulated on Facebook in Iowa over the past day that show an incident from a Sioux City Perkins restaurant early Thursday morning where a police officer instructs a Black man to leave the premises, grabs ahold of his arm, pushes the man on a table and then points a taser at his face then body after pushing him into a booth.

The Sioux City Police Department released body camera footage on Saturday afternoon from three officers involved.

“I’m leaving,” John Wright, who was a customer at the restaurant with friends, says as officer Thad Boyer grabs his arm and tosses him onto a table. “Hey! Hey! I’m leaving! I’m leaving! This is dangerous! This is dangerous!”

Wright is then pushed into a booth, knocking over several chairs in the process, and Boyer backs up and draws his taser.

“Yeah, shoot me in the face,” Wright says as he’s sprawled out in the booth with his hands in the air as the officer aims his taser at Wright. Other customers shout at the officer to put the taser down.

Prior to the confrontation, police had been called to the Perkins at 2:13 a.m. over a drunken woman that management wanted to leave. After she left, Boyer returned to the restaurant, sees Wright at the front counter asking for water and then walks closely behind him and chides Wright and tells him he needs to “be nice” to the staff. Boyer argues with Wright briefly, then goes to the manager after Wright curses out loud in the restaurant several times and asks if he should leave.

“You’re going to go to jail if you don’t stand up and leave,” Boyer tells Wright after some back and forth.

Wright then stands up and puts his jacket in his hand while asking which person the manager is.

“If you don’t leave right now, you’re going to jail,” Boyer repeats and immediately grabs Wright as soon as he finishes the sentence. He then pushes him onto a table.

That part of the interaction occurs a little after 8:00 in Boyer’s body camera footage:

Subsequent videos shared online by onlookers show Wright being handcuffed and led out of the building into a police car, with many police officers arriving on the scene outside. Customers from the restaurant shout at the officers for how Wright was treated.

“The officer’s actions are still under review by the department,” Sgt. Jeremy McClure, the department’s Community Policing Sergeant, told Starting Line earlier Saturday.

“The display of force [with the taser] used by the officer is an appropriate de-escalation technique,” McClure added. “Once the subject was in custody, there was no further force used to get him into custody, and once he was in custody the officers deescalated further. Their actions go under review.”

Messages from Starting Line to Wright and the woman who recorded and posted the bystander videos weren’t immediately returned, but Jasmine Preston, a community leader that has worked on racial justice and policing issues, explained that the incident was a setback to local trust issues with the police department.

“Seeing the [initial] videos, it felt definitely like a setback in regards to trusting the police here,” she said. “As a community, we need to push for accountability and transparency so we can work with the police to be able to rebuild those bridges.”

Local residents have had a particular problem with Boyer over a past use of force issue in 2004 that badly scarred a man. A Change.org petition was already created calling on the department to remove Boyer, who was rehired by the department in 2019. Around that same time, local activists like Preston successfully pushed to get the Sioux City Police Department to finally adopt body cameras.

“The community has had nothing but problems with him since,” Preston said of Boyer’s return to the police force.

Preston did note that local residents have had some progress in police relations recently, like more police using bicycles during their patrols in town, which she said made them more approachable. She also said there’s been local efforts to put up signs on houses where people with autism live so police can better understand a situation they approach.

Wright was charged with trespass, failure to comply with a peace officer and interference with official acts.

The Sioux City Police Department’s press release characterized the confrontation that led to the arrest as, “At the request of the manager, Wright was ordered to leave or face arrest. Wright refused those commands and when officers went to place into custody, he resisted arrest.”

It’s not clear where in the video, as Wright’s arm is grabbed by Boyer and then pushed into a table, the resistance occurs as Wright repeats, “I’m leaving.”

Right before the arrest, another customer observes, “Everybody in here cursing, he just say ‘fuck,’ but he [Wright] gotta go.”

The police statement also noted that Wright “interjected himself into the situation and disrupts the conversation officers were having with the complainant and staff” as they originally entered the Perkins for the woman. The body camera video seems to show Wright asking if the police were at the restaurant for him, the staff reassures him they are not, and the officers go on their way to talk with the woman.

Below is the body camera footage from two other officers, and the entire police statement can be viewed here.

 

by Pat Rynard
Posted 5/1/21

8 Comments on "Videos Show Sioux City Officer Push Black Man Onto Table At Perkins, Aim Taser At Him"

  • As more of these “incidents’ come to light I have to ask – “Is this a police training issue, a hiring/screening issue, or both?”

  • Seeing as the “officer” has been around since at least 2004, was forced to resign after savagely brutalizing and smashing the head and face of an innocent man, and a national organization had to get involved to TRY and get him removed after he was RE-HIRED to savage and brutalize *more* people, this isn’t a training issue, nor is it a hiring issue, nor a screening issue.

    He was forced to quit because he savagely brutalized an innocent human being, and it wasn’t the first time, either.

    He was re-hired BECAUSE he’s a brutal savage.

    He is what the local police force WANTS on their team.

    Police WANT brutal savages that will not obey the law, and will continue to cripple, maim and even kill innocent people, because that makes innocent people fear them.

  • The problem is the multi-tiered ‘justice’ system, and the refusal of our political leadership to enforce proper behavior and conduct on police departments through an appropriately severe set of inescapable consequences for criminal conduct against the public.

    Cops don’t need elevated sentencing for a traffic ticket.

    But they cannot get away with assault, terrorism, intimidation, and abusing the authority of public office their position requires. When any incident like this happens, with an armed government official showing such clear lack of judgement, poor discretion, extreme hostility and disregard for the public, and willingness to initiate and escalate a confrontation with a member of the public for no reason whatsoever, there must be appropriate consequences.

    Appropriate consequences in this case obviously means a moderate felony conviction with a modest sentence, no chance of a deferred disposition, so that the violent thug has no path to armed employment in the future and no chance of gaining a position of authority.

    Ultimately these incidents occur because the police and our political establishment want them to. This is the system we have allowed to develop when we haven’t been actively building it. We as a nation need to grow up and stop treating our rampant police state as ‘normal’ or acceptable.

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