On Aug. 7, police officers in Muskogee, Oklahoma, chased a suspect into the home of 84-year-old Geneva Smith and ended up pepper spraying her. On Friday, local Fox News outlet Fox23 released body cam footage of the encounter, raising the questions: Why was pepper spray necessary or appropriate?
“This is a very important issue,” Muskogee police chief Rex Eskridge told Fox23. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. There is a lot of prejudgment out there and a lot of concern.”
Authorities released the video for transparency’s sake, according to Fox23. It shows police kicking in Smith’s front door in pursuit of her son, Arthur Paul Blackmon, who’d run a stop sign. Police followed Blackmon to Smith’s home and demanded he come outside. He didn’t, so they went in and used a Taser on him, although his hands were up.
When Smith enters on the scene, apparently wondering what was going on, an officer yelled at her to turn around and face the other way or she’d spray, which she did about 40 seconds later, by Fox23’s count.
Smith previously told Fox23 that police handcuffed her and took her to the station, and from there, she had to be taken to the hospital. She also said she was getting a lawyer.
While Smith looked very much like an innocent bystander in the altercation, the police chief has yet to condemn the officers’ actions.
“Videos can’t give a full sense of what happened, but at the same time, they do either validate or expose any warts that you may have,” Eskridge told Fox23. Scott Wood, an attorney for Muskogee, said the decision to pepper spray was understandable, “given the totality of the circumstances.”
The Muskogee police department was not immediately available for comment.Mic will update if and when we hear back.