Surveillance and body cam footage shows SBPD officers punching suspect; activists demand action

NOW: Surveillance and body cam footage shows SBPD officers punching suspect; activists demand action

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Activists call for justice, after the release of a video showing police officers punching a black man in South Bend.

Marciio Perry—called Donte by his family and friends—was walking to his car when he was approached by several SBPD officers—who then proceeded to pin him to the hood of his car and punch him—in a situation they called a “misunderstanding.”

Edited body cam video—provided by Black Lives Matter South Bend—showed the violent arrest from November 5, 2022.

“What is wrong with y’all? I’m not doing nothing, man!” Perry is heard saying in the video.

“Put your hands behind your [expletive deleted] back!” demanded one of the officers.

“But I’m not doing nothing!” replied Perry.

“I hope that somebody gets to be held accountable for their actions,” said Perry’s sister, Shardae Word.

Perry’s family is now demanding justice.

As seen on a neighbor’s surveillance camera—Perry was walking to his car when he was approached by two officers—who responded to a Shot Spotter report of gunfire nearby.

According to court documents, the officers noticed “a bulge” in Perry’s hoodie. Perry confirmed he was carrying a licensed handgun.

When the officers began to pat him down, they said Perry “tensed up” and they feared he may reach for the weapon.

The video shows the officers shove Perry onto the hood of his car.

One officer is even seen punching down on Perry.

All the while—Perry screamed for his life.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” he screamed.

“Get him down!” an officer can be heard yelling.

“I can’t breathe, man!” Perry continued screaming.

They charged Perry with resisting law enforcement—a felony charge, resulting from one of the arresting officers allegedly scraping his elbow during the incident. He was also charged with possessing less than thirty grams of marijuana.

While Perry is at the hospital—an officer said “Perry, you know what this sounds like to me, though, at the end of the day? Even though you’re going to be going to jail for resisting, but at the end of the day, is this nothing but a misunderstanding?”

Perry responded “Yeah bro, and look at my face, look at my lip. I’m being beaten up for a misunderstanding? That’s not cool, bro.”

Word alleged the physical and psychological damage has already been done.

“They messed up his vision, they shifted his hip—he’s traumatized,” she said. “Like he has nightmares. He barely sleeps. And no matter how my brother tries to be strong and not let us see he’s hurting, we know deep down inside that he’s hurting.”

South Bend Police conducted an investigation into Perry’s arrest. They released this statement from PIO Ashley O’Chap:

“Two days after Marciio Perry’s arrest on November 5, 2022, Mr. Perry filed a complaint against the officers who took him into custody, claiming excessive use of force.

An internal investigation was immediately launched, which consists of a review from the following groups in the police department:

  • Supervisors
  • Use of Force Committee
  • Defensive Tactics Instructors/Training Division
  • Internal Affairs
  • Command Staff

After a review of the facts, evidence and statements, Chief of Police Scott Ruszkowski has not identified any Use of Force violations in relation to this case. The groups listed above continue to examine this case to ensure the incident was handled in accordance with other department policies and training.”

The City of South Bend also released a statement, from Director of Communications Allison Zeithammer:

“SBPD takes all uses of force seriously and investigates them thoroughly. Although the use of force investigation has concluded, SBPD is continuing to examine this case to ensure the incident was handled in accordance with all other department policies. Since July 2020, corrective action and discipline for policy violations have followed the matrix adopted by the Board of Public Safety in collaboration with the community.”

Perry’s family and Black Lives Matter activists like BLM South Bend co-founder Jorden Giger say that’s not nearly enough.

“We want the officers who were involved to be terminated,” said Giger. “We want the release of all body and dash cam footage, all radio communique, dispatch recordings, we want it all to be released to the public so that we can all see for ourselves what really happened that night.”

“These officers should not be able to be on the force with this situation happening, because what if they happened to kill my brother?” asked Word. “Then what?”

Perry’s family tells me they plan to file a civil suit against the police department.

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