Charles Wade, arrested after an alleged DUI, was strapped to a chair by the legs and waist after loudly headbutting a wall. The cops moved to undo the black man's handcuffs to strap his arms in as well.
“What the f-ck are you f-cking doing to my hands?” Wade asked as he began to struggle, surrounded by officers. In response, Police Sgt. John Eversole used pepper spray on Wade from only one inch away, according to the lawsuit.
Wade began to cough, at which point Eversole sprayed him again. Wade began claiming that he couldn’t breathe and asking for assistance, but the officers left Wade in the restraining chair, carting him away.
Wade’s lawyer claimed that the behavior of the officers amounted to “brutal and excessive force.”
“Certainly, there were four large corrections officers — in addition to a sergeant — who were with Charles Wade and who had sufficient control over him and the situation without resorting to excess uses of force, including the pepper spray,” said Douglas Brannon, Wade’s attorney, to The Washington Post.
“If he starts struggling you just bake off and start again,” said David Esrati, the activist who released the video, to The Daily News. “It’s called de-escalation.”
The incident comes a year after another person, a woman named Amber Swink, was pepper sprayed while completely strapped restraining chair at the same jail. After video of her treatment went viral, police called it an isolated incident.
Some law enforcement experts have found the officers’ behavior toward Swink and Wade an inexcusable violation.
“You cannot find any training manual that will tell you it is allowable to pepper-spray somebody who is restrained,” said Kamran Loghman—a U.S. Naval Academy professor and one of the people who first developed police use of pepper spray—to the Post. “It is used to avoid confrontation or injury, so you don’t escalate to higher levels of confrontation. Pepper spray, therefore, should not be used if the subject is expressing verbal disagreement or anger.”