Morgantown Police Chief breaks down body camera video of suspect takedown

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:16 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - On Monday, we showed you body camera video of an arrest in Morgantown that happened last Thursday at bar on Chestnut Street.

Officers were called there on reports a man was dragging his ex-girlfriend out of the bar against her will.

That suspect, identified as a 20-year-old Virginia man, didn’t comply with the officer’s commands.

The department says he also grabbed an officer before being taken to the ground.

MPD releases body cam video of suspect takedown

The officer’s use of force brought the department under fire by some. But the agency is standing by its officer’s actions, including Police Chief Eric Powell.

Powell sat down with 5 News on Tuesday to review the video.

It happens in a split second. A suspect in a domestic violence case, taken to the ground by a Morgantown police officer, captured on the officer’s body camera.

“The arm is actually reaching towards the officers gun side of his belt and his arm,” said Powell.

Powell says the suspect, Massinissa Belkadi, grabbed the officer near where his gun was.

At that point, Powell says the officer is justified in using appropriate force to protect himself and others.

“What we do is we use the minimum amount of force necessary to effectively do what we need to do in this case its gaining control of somebody who is first offering passive resistance then active physical resistance,” said Powell. “So we either match that level of resistance or we go a step above that level of resistance.”

But some, including a Morgantown city councilman, questioned if the force used was appropriate. Powell says the department’s review process determined it was and that there’s nothing illegal or improper about the technique the officer used.

Powell says he’d have reacted similarly if he had been in the officer’s position.

“I think the officer was at point where he had only one option and he did the right thing. I think he did what was appropriate in that particular circumstance.”

As for Belkadis’ injuries, Powell says he declined medical treatment.

Powell says he released the video to counter a separate 11-second clip that was circulating online.

It shows only the moments immediately before the takedown, which Powell says doesn’t give the full picture.

“Because of social media and because it causes such an uproar when people attach their narratives or versions or interpretations of what they’re seeing, I thought it was appropriate for this particular incident to make sure people had more of the story rather than what they were just seeing in that however many second clip it was,” said Powell.

5 News sent public record requests asking for all body camera video involved in this arrest.

Powell said the 58-second clip released by the department shows the entirety of the interaction aside from some questioning of the suspect that happened after.

He says there is no video showing what happened leading up to what is seen in the clip.