Police to open investigation after video shows Memphis officer shoving woman to ground

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UPDATE: Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Friday he has asked the police director to open an investigation after video appeared to show an officer shoving a female protester to the ground Wednesday night.

“After learning more information on an event that occurred Wednesday night with one of our officers and a female protester, I have asked Director Rallings to fully investigate the matter,” Strickland said in a statement.

Police are working to identify the officer involved. Police Director Michael Rallings will not comment on an ongoing investigation.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A piece of video from Wednesday’s protest in Memphis is causing a big stir.

The video seems to show an officer knocking down a woman who was standing near demonstrators at the Midtown police precinct on Union Avenue.

The video is short, but what it shows had plenty of people talking.

In the video, you can see what appears to be officers in riot gear, and to their left is a woman standing nearby. One of the officers appears to take a swing and knock the woman to the ground.

Hunter Demster, a well-known activist in Memphis, said he took the video during last night’s protest in Memphis.

WREG doesn’t know who the woman is, what prompted the officer’s actions or how she is doing, but people who have seen the video want to know.

When Demster posted the video on his Facebook page, it set off a firestorm of comments with people saying it was horrific and awful.

Some even asked if the officer is going to lose his job.

In his regular COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Mayor Jim Strickland did not address the video specifically, and WREG doesn’t know if he has even seen it.

But after expressing anger over the video from Minneapolis, he did say the following about Memphis’ protest.

“I want to say how proud I am of Memphis police officers and those officers on the scene last night,” Strickland said. “I thought they handled themselves well.”

Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer saw the video and posted a message to city leadership to respond. She hosted a Zoom press conference Thursday afternoon.

“I am really disappointed in the mayor of Memphis’ response to this demonstration,” Sawyer said. “There is live video footage of a woman being knocked down off her feet with plexiglass by the Memphis Police Department. The idea of police brutality and abusing their power. I couldn’t go up to somebody and push them down like that. I would get in trouble for it.”

WREG asked Demster to talk  about what he witnessed Wednesday night, but he said he could not talk about it right now, as the protest organizers have declared a media blackout and are working on a prepared statement.

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