(Memphis) The young man on the receiving end of the blows from an off-duty officer’s baton told News Channel 3 his side of the story.
A week ago, 21-year-old Stedmon Fentress was getting out of jail after he was arrested by off-duty Memphis Police Officer Bob Parker.
His arrest caught the attention of people in the mall that day, and it was videotaped and sent to WREG.
We looked into what happened before the cameras started rolling.
“I never said nothing to the officer but why are you beating me. That was my main words. Can you stop spraying me, please. I will cooperate,” said Fentress.
WREG caught up with Fentress as he was leaving the Memphis Police Department Internal Affairs bureau, where he filed an official complaint against Officer Parker.
Fentress said, “I guess he was a little older and he thought this younger cat right here, I’m just going to treat him any kind of way and it’s nothing going to happen.”
What happened has been viewed thousands of times on wreg.com, but we talked to Officer Parker over the phone and he said we needed to see the mall surveillance video, not just this clip.
We asked if his actions were excessive that day and why he hit Fentress with the baton, when he was already down. Parker said the question to ask is, was the suspect in a position to put him in handcuffs?
Parker wouldn’t say any more, but in his police report, he wrote he was ‘working off duty at Dillars Oakcourt Mall’ when ‘suspect was given several warning to back down but he continued. Suspect then took a fighting stand when officer attempted to arrested him.’
Fentress denies that’s what happened.
He said, “He pursued me. He pushed me down the escalator. He started it. I never took a stance or nothing against him. He just was at me for no reason.”
What does the person who shot the video say?
WREG found out he’s a public servant in another Mid-South city who says he was appalled by what he saw that day, which is why he sent WREG the video.
The witness said, “I didn’t think the guy was a threat.”
He added, “The guy had his back to the officer and the officer pushed him twice.”
We asked the witness what happened before he hit record.
He said Fentress had been arguing with another man over a woman, and before the officer showed up, Fentress had started to leave.
He said Officer Parker pushed Frentress as he was leaving.
A check of Parker’s personnel record shows he’s been suspended for excessive force before and forced to attend anger management class.
In that same incident, he was also reprimanded for not documenting he used excessive force.
That may once again be a problem for him.
In the report obtained by WREG, Parker never mentions using a baton to take down the suspect, only the mace.
Fentress said, “He slandered my name and it’s just real embarrassing to be beat up in a mall. It’s viral. It’s all over the internet.”
WREG found Fentress isn’t new to the criminal justice system.
He’s been arrested twice before. He was convicted for theft, but most of the other charges were dropped, including a previous charge of resisting arrest.
Fentress, who turned 21 just days before the Oak Court Mall incident said, “I’ve had a couple of charges. I was young. I’m still young but I’m doing good now, you know.”
The police department is investigating Parker’s actions, but he is still on the job while they do so.
When WREG asked if he was still moonlighting at the mall, he responded, “Why wouldn’t I be?”
WREG is requesting a copy of the surveillance video from Oak Court Mall.