Like so many other recordings of police interactions that surface on the internet what feels like every day, the video of the arrest of Jerami Tubbs is difficult to watch.
The video that has circulated for the past several days depicts two officers of local law enforcement agencies, one Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department deputy and one Oxford Police Department officer, struggling with an individual in the parking lot of the Marathon gas station on South Lamar Street.
As the officers wrestle with Tubbs on the ground in an attempt to restrain him a gun falls from Tubbs’ person, which the officers quickly removed from his reach. The deputy continues to repeatedly press his knee between the individual’s head and shoulders and punch him forcefully. Throughout the entire recording of what the LCSD is calling a “brief struggle,” Tubbs is screaming in what it is difficult to assume is anything other than pain.
Tubbs was stopped initially for a traffic violation inside the city limits of Oxford by a plain clothes LCSD deputy.
“The suspect was identified as Jerami Tubbs, who was known from previous interactions with the deputy to be a convicted felon and carry weapons. Based on that information and for everyone’s safety, Tubbs was told that he would be patted down before continuing. The suspect refused, becoming argumentative and acting very out of character from past experiences. He then pushed the deputy and attempted to run. The deputy grabbed the suspect, who was still wearing his protective helmet, and they both fell to the ground,” the LCSD press release states.
In the end, Tubbs was charged with speeding, not using a turn signal, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of a schedule II substance with intent to distribute while in possession of a firearm.
The incident, which took place on Wednesday, Jan. 18, was recorded by a bystander and quickly found its way to social media, where it spread rapidly. The incident was disturbing, and people took notice.
The video of the altercation and the press release from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, unfortunately, raise more questions than they answer. The amount of force depicted in the video is a cause for concern — yet, the press release fails to address the deputy’s actions.
The deputy in the video made the traffic stop in plain clothes. If the LCSD does not already utilize body cameras for all deputies working in the field, it is our position that they are an overdue and necessary addition. With respect to this specific situation, we think it is prudent that the OPD officer’s body camera footage of the altercation be released to the public, to offer clarification on the incident.
Videos recorded by bystanders, like the one in question, should make us think about what function police and other law enforcement officials serve in our lives. Seeing a man scream under the weight of an officer’s knee and watching that officer repeatedly punch the subject after the immediate threat of the gun had been neutralized stand at odds with both the duty officers are supposed to serve and the professionalism with which they are expected to carry themselves.
After the immediate threat to the officer is neutralized and the individual is subdued, it is expected that officers decrease their levels of force to that which is appropriate.
We grant officers of the law a lot of power in our communities: Are we really okay with them using it like this?
We acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, but what we do know is that a knee between someone’s head and shoulders and the multiple punches rendered by the officer as depicted in the video is too much.
The Daily Mississippian’s Editorial Board would be more than willing to reevaluate our position on this issue if more information is presented.
When it is decided that The Daily Mississippian will take an editorial stance on an issue, the following positions will make decisions as the Editorial Board: editor-in-chief, managing editor, copy chief, sports editor and opinion editor.