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    Detroit police reviewing 45-second video of officer punching man in Greektown

    The 45-second video clip — which was posted Sunday on Reddit under the description “Detroit 🐖 handing out the brain damage” — shows a group of police officers in Greektown advancing toward a Black man wearing a Tigers jersey.

    One officer is pointing. Another says to the man: “Back the (expletive) up!” And a third, who is Black, punches the man facing them in the head so hard it knocks him to the ground and his ball cap tumbles off.

    Off-camera, someone yells: “You ain’t got to do that, dog.”

    The video, which one TV journalist called “disturbing” on air, raises new questions about police brutality and excessive force, just months after a Minnesota police officer’s actions resulted in a murder conviction.

    It’s unclear when the video in Greektown was taken or whether 45 seconds of it is enough to offer context for the viewer to accurately and fairly interpret what is going on in it.

    Detroit police said Monday in an email to the Free Press that “an allegation of excessive force,” is being looked at and are promising to offer more information about it “as soon as practicable.”

    “The Detroit Police Department was made aware, via social media, of an allegation of excessive force in Greektown,” Detroit Police Second Deputy Chief Rudy Harper said in the email. “Internal Affairs is reviewing the circumstances surrounding this allegation.”

    Harper offered no details about the video, but added that: “DPD is committed to remaining transparent throughout this process and will provide updates to the community and our media partners.”

    At the end of Harper’s email is a quote attributed to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan: “The Detroit Police Department is a model of sustained policing excellence that places our neighborhoods and people first.”

    Last month, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University/Detroit Free Press poll found that amid a jump in violent crime in this and other cities nationwide, Detroit residents report being much more worried about public safety than about police misconduct.

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    Last month, WJBK-TV (Fox 2) reported that Greektown has seen a rise in violence prompting Detroit Interim Police Chief James White to increase the number of officers in the area. 

    Last spring and summer, anti-police brutality demonstrators marched through Detroit’s streets, prompting the city to impose a temporary curfew, make arrests, and use gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters.

    In the video posted on Reddit, the man who was hit initially seems dazed or unconscious as the officer who hit him tries to sit him up, and props him up with his legs.  

    “Oh Lord,” the man who seemed to admonish the police can be heard saying.

    Meanwhile, in the background of the video, another police officer, who is mounted on horseback, uses the horse to nudge what someone out of the way. In the frame, even more police officers are visible. 

    The man who was hit then starts to wave his hands, while the officer who was propping him up, pokes him in the back with his knee. The group of officers appear to retreat from the man, and bystanders help him get back up on his feet.

    Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or fwitsil@freepress.com.

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