Norman Police Say Actions Justified In Excessive Force Investigation

Monday, October 6th 2014, 6:57 pm
By: News 9

After viral video showed a man pinned on the ground by officers on OU's campus, Norman Police conducted a thorough review of policy and tactics. But the agency again says the force used was justified in making an arrest.

Norman Police says their review shows there are two sides to every story. Though many students felt the force was excessive, officers say they were well within their means.

The cell phone video showing 23-year-old Willie Cannon wailing on OU's campus as officers are on top of him, quickly went viral.

"Just seeing him on the ground like that screaming and hollering definitely struck a chord inside that it could've easily been me on the ground like that," said OU junior, Briana Jones.

Many students thought the force used by Norman Police officers then on Sept. 8, was over the top, but Norman Police say that was far from the case.

"If you walked into that one minute segment and that's all you saw, you would say, ‘Oh my gosh, that looks bad,' and the fact is no use of force looks good," said Norman Police Capt. Tom Easley.

9/9/2014 Related Story: Video Of Police Arresting Suspect On OU Campus Stirs Controversy

Easley says Cannon had been served a trespassing document from campus police, but would not sign it and resisted arrest, so officers used a taser and knee strikes, which they found reasonable.

“That didn't work either. None of the techniques that we use on him actually worked to get him to release and let his hands come out, despite his protest and yells for help. On video, he has both of his hands and arms under his body, Easley said.

“So ultimately, what the three officers did was they managed to physically force his hands out and around and behind his back."

In the department's “Use of Force Review,” Norman Police officers evaluated a 20-minute audio recording, the video, defensive tactics, professional standards, police reports and department policy, and state law.

Norman Police submitted an 8-page comprehensive report to the police chief, who concluded that the force used was reasonable under the law and department policy.

Even deputies say in Cannon's mug shot he would not cooperate and hold up his head. After learning more about Cannon's actions, student opinion has started to change.

“It made me believe that their force was slightly necessary, but the extent of the force was still questionable in my mind,” Jones said.

"If it was just something where he was looking at people, then I don't know that necessarily violence was the right thing to do. But again, I trust the police. I think that they're here to help us," said OU freshman Rebecca Walters.

Cannon, who has been arrested three times this year, is still being held in the Cleveland County Detention Center. He is due back in court Tuesday.