CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is investigating the arrest of a man visiting from out of town who says special transit police used excessive force in arresting him Monday morning.
William Sutter and his mom were in town from New Jersey. Sutter, who is handicapped and walks with a limp, needed to use the bathroom so he pulled into the downtown transit center.
According to Sutter, he asked an officer where the men's room was. Sutter said the officer pointed him in the right direction and then told him to move his car. That's when Sutter said he told the officer his mom — who was still in the car — would move it while he proceeded to the bathroom.
Surveillance video requested by On Your Side Investigates shows a police officer hurried to get in front of Sutter on his way to the bathroom. The video doesn't have sound but shows the two men exchanging words and the officer pointing out towards the car before, suddenly, the officer shoves Sutter.
At that point two other officers emerge and the three shove Sutter up against a glass window and try to place him under arrest. Ultimately, a total of six officers surrounded Sutter and grabbed his face, arms and shoulders. Next, you see one officer kick Sutter and then a second officer kick Sutter three times in a row — for a total of four kicks between the two officers.
"The subject had his hands clinched tightly in front of his body and had not been checked for weapons at that time. This prevented the officers from placing the handcuffs on him to do a complete search of the subject," one of the officers who kicked Sutter later wrote in a use of force report.
WEB EXTRA: Click here to read the Use of Force report
"As the officers were attempting to get the subject's hands away from the front of his body, I applied pressure to the subject's mandibular angle. This appeared to have no effect on the subject so I applied one lower leg kick to gain compliance."
On Your Side Investigates showed the video of Sutter's arrest to attorney Frederick Winiker, who represents Sutter but had not previously seen the video.
"Why they would need to kick him while they're handcuffing him?" Winiker asked after watching the video. "There's just nothing on this tape that would show that."
Sutter was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Winiker, his attorney, said he would fight both charges.
WEB EXTRA: Click here for the Arrest Report
"This is the kind of thing, this is, at worst, a parking ticket or asking for his car to be towed. This man posed no threat to these officers," he said.
A spokeswoman for CATS said the transit agency was investigating the incident but declined to comment further.
The contract between CATS and G4S Police, who are contracted to patrol the transit center and other CATS facilities, calls for all incidents involving use of force to be reported and reviewed.
It is not clear whether G4S has made a determination whether or not the use of force in Sutter's arrest was appropriate, nor whether Sutter should have been arrested in the first place.