A Phoenix cop is back on patrol after he was fired for using “excessive force.”
Four months ago, the police chief terminated Officer Kevin McGowan for kicking out a suspect’s teeth.
McGowan appealed and on Thursday, the city’s Civil Service Board voted to reinstate him.
The incident in question was all caught on surveillance video. It shows McGowan using what’s called a “kick-strike” to restrain and handcuff 18-year-old, Patrick D’Labik, who says he was a victim of police brutality.
“I didn’t really feel it at first. I just tasted blood,” he says. “Then, as soon as I spit, I realized my teeth was out.”
The officer says he just wanted to question the teen, who was spotted with a possible murder suspect. But, D’Labik admitted to ABC15 he took off because he had weed in his pocket and he didn’t want to go to jail.
The officer says he was forced to use excessive measures because the teen wasn’t listening to his commands.
In a police interrogation video, McGowan is heard telling investigators, “At a certain point, I couldn’t see his hands. So, I took a strike to his shoulder so I could control his hand and take him into custody.”
McGowan’s supporters say the 43-second footage doesn’t show the entire story and the Civil Service Board was right to consider all the elements of the case.
Of course, the incident highlights an emerging issue facing officers, who are increasingly scrutinized by smartphones, body cameras and security videos. Even dramatic video footage from this incident proves these situations can be subject to interpretation.
But, this may not be over. Reportedly, the case could be reopened.