A patrol officer in Mobile has been placed on desk duty pending an administrative investigation after videos of him placing a detained man in a chokehold this week began to surface on social media.
There have been at least two videos posted to Facebook over the past 24 hours showing an incident that reportedly occurred at the intersection of Lafayette and St. Stephens Roads in Mobile Feb. 18.
Officials have since confirmed the incident involved Mobile Police officer Blake Duke and Howard Green Jr., 53.
The video begins with Duke detaining and exchanging some strong words with Green, who is seen lying facedown on the ground. After handcuffing Green and assisting him to his feet, Duke eventually shoves him into the patrol car before briefly putting him in a chokehold and placing him in the back seat.
Later in the footage, after Green apparently made noises from inside of the patrol car, Duke removed him from the vehicle again and began searching his pockets — grabbing Green’s head and neck area several times and eventually placing him in another brief chokehold against the car.
Multiple bystanders recorded the incident. When one of them told Duke they were filming he said “By all means so am I.” He later told them, “You can move on, or I’ll get you for disorderly conduct.”
At the end of the video, an unidentified female MPD officer points toward witnesses filming and a third officer approaches them. The video ends there, but on Facebook, the woman who initially shared the video said it was recorded by her daughter and police had briefly taken her phone afterward.
It’s unclear at this point whether any other officers’ actions are being reviewed by MPD.
A female passenger was detained briefly while Green’s vehicle was searched by the officers, though their efforts do not appear to have turned up evidence of drugs or other illegal items based on information available through the Mobile County Metro Jail. Records indicate Green was charged with harassment, no insurance, running a red light, failure to obey, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Some of the witnesses who posted the videos disputed whether Green actually ran a red light and questioned why Green was pulled over in the first place. One of the first things Duke is heard telling Green in the video is “it was only going to be a [expletive] traffic stop.”
An MPD spokesperson confirmed to Lagniappe that Duke was the officer in the video and he has been taken off patrol duty pending the outcome of an investigation into his conduct during Green’s arrest.
Duke, who works in MPD’s third precinct, joined the force in 2018 and was also named the department’s officer of the Month in December 2019. A press release detailing his performance from that month mentioned that, among other achievements, he “self-initiated 69 proactive policing stops.”
Wednesday morning, Mobile City Councilman Levon Manzie took to social media to let citizens know he’d seen the video and had concerns about it himself. He said he’d already taken up the issue with MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste, who had assured him there would be an “thorough investigation.”
“While I appreciate all those who have contacted me and am concerned about some of the behavior exhibited, I urge everyone to be patient and await the conclusion of that investigation,” Manzie said.
Lagniappe will update this story as more information is released by the department.
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