BUTLER TWP. — A Butler Twp. Police sergeant has been placed on leave after a video surfaced of him punching a woman during an arrest at a local McDonalds.
The video, which was posted publicly on Facebook and sent to News Center 7 by multiple people, was recorded by a bystander Monday, Jan. 16 around 4:40 p.m. It showed an officer punching a woman multiple times during an arrest at a McDonalds on York Commons Blvd.
Butler Twp. Police Chief John Porter confirmed the video Tuesday. On Wednesday, Porter identified the officers involved in the call as Sgt. Todd Stanley and Officer Tim Zellers. Stanley has been with the department for 22 1/2 years, while Zellers has been with the department for 2 1/2 years. Neither officer has any previous reprimands in their files.
Officers were called out the McDonalds after an employee reported a woman was in the restaurant, yelling at employees over a mistake in an order, according to a 911 call obtained through public records request.
“She’s mad over a $.30 piece of cheese,” the caller told dispatchers.
When officers arrived on scene, body and cruiser camera video showed the the woman, identified as Latinka Hancock, waiting in her car to tell police her side of the story. When Stanley told her to to fill out a formal notice for trespassing, she refuses to give officers information for that form.
The conversation starts calmly, but then quickly escalates before becoming physical as officers said Hancock resisted her arrest for failure to identify.
At one point, body camera video shows Zellers point his taser at Hancock and Stanley punch her in the face three times to get her up against the cruiser and in handcuffs.
Ported said Stanley has been placed on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted. One of the reasons behind Stanley being put on leave, Porter said, was that he and the department had started to receive a lot of “hate mail” after the original video was shared on social media.
When asked, Porter would not say if he thought the officers’ actions were appropriate.
“The officers are given options and until I have all the information, I’m not gonna comment on what is the appropriate response action to this yet,” he told media outlets at a press conference Wednesday.
Porter said he would not comment on if the officers were in danger until he has all of the information from the internal investigation.
Porter also said officers are trained in de-escalation and were trying to deescalate the situation in the beginning.
Hancock was charged with resisting arrest and failure to identify. She was also cited with driving under suspension and having an open container of alcohol in her vehicle.
News Center 7 reached out to Hancock and she has hired attorney Michael L. Wright from the law firm of Wright & Schulte.
Wright confirmed that Hancock was taken to the hospital for a concussion and other injuries, but has since been released.
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