By Tom Mustin
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s the cellphone video that has caused a social media firestorm.
“Regardless of what she’s doing, no one should be thrown face-first into the ground, ” one resident told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
“I don’t want to make a judgement until I know all the information,” said resident Jason Pocalyko.
Fort Collins Police Services says the video showing a female Colorado State University student being slammed to the ground is misleading. They told Mustin they believe the officer’s body cam video will tell a much different story.
The incident took place Thursday night at the Bondi Beach Bar and Grill. Since being posted, it’s been viewed nearly 770,000 times.
The video shows a Fort Collins police officer violently throwing Michaela Surat, 22, to the ground in Old Town.
Kelly Simmons and Courtney Dean told Mustin they were inside the Bondi Beach Bar and watched the altercation unfold.
“He probably could have handled it differently, the officer. She was very small. Like thin,” said Dean.
Police say they had been breaking up a fight involving Surat’s boyfriend when she “shoulder slammed” the officer. After being asked to leave, Surat allegedly struck the officer. Police say that’s when she was thrown to the ground, arrested and later charged with assault.
Simmons says she believes the officer went overboard.
“She’s so small. He could have easily just grabbed her arms and handcuffed her or gently pushed her up against the wall and handcuffed her. Anything other than face-slamming a girl into the ground,” she told Mustin.
Police Chief John Hutto released a statement saying the cellphone video does not show the whole story. Protocal was followed and the body cam video will eventually be released. Resident Meredith Wilson says until that happens, it’s too early to pass judgement.
“You definitely need to know the story behind why the cops were talking to her, why they were called and were actually there. Not just this nine-second clip,” she said.
Surat’s attorney said his client suffered a concussion in the incident and doesn’t believe the use of force by the officer was warranted.
Police say the officer’s body cam video will be released when the investigation is complete. There’s no word yet on when that will be.