Politicians, local leaders respond to East Towne Mall arrest - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Politicians, local leaders respond to East Towne Mall arrest

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Genele Laird Genele Laird

MADISON (WKOW) -- Below are statements issued by local leaders and politicians in response to the arrest of Genele Laird. Laird was arrested at East Towne Mall Tuesday afternoon. Video of that arrest has gone viral on social media.

Jordan Turner, candidate for the 37th Assembly District, sent this letter to Madison Chief of Police Mike Koval.

Dear Chief Koval: 

It has come to our attention that an incident taking place on June 21, 2016 involving 18-year old Genele Laird, may have ran afoul of the law. Video footage appears to show Laird being treated in a manner that is contrary to the practices of the Department and applicable civil rights laws. 

The video in question depicts a Madison Police officer violently kicking and “kneeing” an alleged suspect prior to ordering her to “get on the ground.” Once the suspect is detained and on the ground, the officer maintains a clear pattern of “kneeing” the suspect. The officer then subsequently punches the suspect with his fist while she’s on the ground and her hands are behind her back. After all that, the officer then proceeds to discharge a Taser several times ranging from the suspect’s stomach area continuing all the way down to her legs. Laird then states several times, “I can’t breath.” The video then depicts that same officer slamming the suspect’s head into the pavement. A separate officer then orders bystanders filming the incident to go away and “back up.” 

There isn’t a situation that exists where the officer’s conduct displayed in the video would be considered an appropriate remedy or resolution to the alleged offense. We request charges against the primary officer involved in the potential assault and civil rights violations of the citizen. 

Thank you in advance for your swift action and cooperation in this matter. 

Representative Chris Taylor Issued the following statement Wednesday morning.

“Ms. Laird’s family, friends, and our community are deeply upset about the brutal treatment of Ms. Laird depicted in the video, which seems extremely disproportionate to any threat posed. The public deserves answers and a thorough investigation of what occurred and why this level of force was utilized.  It is also concerning that Ms. Laird wasn’t immediately taken to the hospital for medical care, which the two officers involved received, especially after she can be heard saying she cannot breath.

“As our country has experienced, too often videos like this one have exposed violent mistreatment of people of color at the hands of the police.  We deserve a full and impartial investigation of what occurred.

“This incident is another example of why an independent structure for the internal investigation of officer conduct must be adopted in Madison, just as many other communities around the country have done to increase public transparency and accountability.”

Senator Steve Nass issued the following statement, in response to Representative Taylor's statement.

“I want to extend my appreciation and support to the officers of the Madison Police Department and all those wearing the badge that serve us daily across the state.  It is sickening to watch Representative Chris Taylor constantly demean police officers by utilizing difficult situations for political motivations.

Even more disgusting is the unbridled willingness of Representative Taylor to play the inflammatory race-card despite the fact that no evidence exists that the race of the suspect played any role in how officers dealt with this suspect, who allegedly threatened to kill at least two individuals while displaying a knife.

The time has come for citizens to stand with law enforcement and resist public officials who insist on injecting new race-based standards into our criminal justice system.”

Representative Taylor issued this statement in Response to Senator Nass' statement.

“I fail to see how asking for a fully transparent and impartial internal investigation regarding a very disturbing incident in any way demeans the Madison Police Department.  It’s ironic that Sen. Nass accuses me of “playing the inflammatory race-card” when the cornerstone of his legislative agenda has been inflammatory race and gender baiting.  As the lead author on the offensive race-based mascot bill to playing the Bathroom police with our transgendered community to his comments today, if there is anyone obsessed with race and focused on demeaning people – it is Senator Steve Nass.”

This article will be updated with any further statements provided to WKOW.

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