On June 6, Tyler Timberlake, a Fairfax County police officer assigned to the Mount Vernon District Station, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and battery following the violent arrest of a black man the previous afternoon, according to the Fort Hunt Herald.
Footage of the arrest from another officer’s bodycam shows Timberlake arriving at the scene, where an unidentified man was walking in circles muttering to himself. Police and paramedics were already on the scene and were attempting to get the man into the ambulance when Timberlake arrived. Timberlake appears to shock the man with a stun gun before forcing him onto the ground. Timberlake then appears to kneel on the man’s back before stunning him again. Officers and paramedics helped to pin the man down before he was put in handcuffs. In the video, the man struggles to break free and repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe.”
On June 7, the Fairfax County Police Department issued a statement, saying “the actions of the officer clearly exceeded the boundaries of law, policy and professionalism.” The statement added, “As an officer attempted to deescalate the situation that was underway, Timberlake arrived shortly after and used force that is unacceptable.”
“This incident should have never happened,” Fairfax NAACP President Sean Perryman said in a statement posted to social media. “This latest video is a testament that Fairfax County is not immune to police violence.”
Officials Fear the Arrest Will Further Exacerbate Tensions in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death
In case you missed Saturday’s news conference where I joined the Chief of Police, please see my statement below on the unlawful use of force incident by a Fairfax Police Officer. You can view the press conference here: https://t.co/FWpxSOXBdO pic.twitter.com/NPX10J7VIa
— Jeff McKay (@JeffreyCMcKay) June 8, 2020
Jeff McKay, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman, also made a statement in response to the arrest and the bodycam footage:
I am angry. This has been a particularly hard couple of weeks for our community, and what we’ve heard tonight will make healing more difficult. …
Though our department has come a long way to further those values, including the establishment of a Civilian Review Panel, hiring of an Independent Police Auditor, phasing in of body-worn cameras, and currently studying racial disparities in use of force cases by FCPD – clearly there is still work to be done.
Timberlake has served on the police force for eight years, according to the Fort Hunt Herald. He and other officers involved in the arrest were placed on administrative leave. The man who was arrested has not been officially identified.
The incident comes as protests over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody have gripped the country. On the day of the Fairfax County arrest, demonstrators marched along Richmond Highway to the Mount Vernon District police station and governmental center, according to the Fort Hunt Herald. The Herald reported that a couple hundred protesters participated and that the event was peaceful.
Fairfax County is located west of D.C., where protests have taken place for nearly two weeks outside the White House, the U.S. Capitol and several other prominent locations. Arlington County, which neighbors Fairfax, sent police to assist in the district before withdrawing their officers after protesters were violently removed from Lafayette Square ahead of President Donald Trump’s remarks at St. John’s Episcopal Church, according to CBS.
“This was an abuse and perversion of the mutual aid agreement. You have an agreement with someone and suddenly you find yourself in a very different situation than what you agreed to,” said Libby Garvey, the chair of Arlington County board. “We’re not having our officers put in danger for a photo-op.”