Video of Pennsylvania officer with knee on man’s neck sparks outrage

Intersection where George Floyd was killed
People leave tributes at the Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died in police custody in May.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Video posted on social media showing a Pennsylvania police officer with his knee on a man’s neck while trying to restrain him has prompted protests and a demand from the local Black Lives Matter group to suspend the officers involved.

The video, shot Saturday night from a passerby’s vehicle, shows Allentown officers restraining a man on the ground outside the emergency room of the Sacred Heart Campus of St. Luke’s Hospital. An officer has his elbow on the man’s neck before switching to a knee to hold him down while other officers restrain his arms.

The man does not appear to be resisting during the video.

Allentown police released a statement Sunday night saying the interaction was being investigated and additional videos were being reviewed.


The department released its use-of-force policy earlier this month, five weeks after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after Floyd stopped responding. Floyd’s death has sparked protests around the world calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

Allentown’s policy prohibits neck restraints and chokeholds. It says that officers should use only the amount of force necessary to control the situation.

The police use of carotid holds has a troubled history, killing and seriously injuring some people.

According to the police statement, officers were outside the hospital for an unrelated matter when they saw a man staggering in the street, vomiting and stopping in the driveway of the ER.

The officers and hospital staff interacted with the man, who began to yell and spit at them, police said. The statement said the man was “noncompliant, which required officers to restrain” him. It’s unclear from the video how long the officer had his knee on the man’s neck.

The man was treated at the hospital and released.

Police have not released the name or race of any individuals seen in the video.


The video was posted on social media, and people on the Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley Facebook page demanded answers from police. The group formed a protest late Saturday in front of the police station and was planning another march to City Hall on Monday evening with community leaders slated as speakers.

Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell and Police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. showed up at the protest. Both said the police needed to investigate the matter further. O’Connell called the video “disturbing.”

Police said in their statement that they planned on releasing more videos later this week.