ICPD arrest video makes rounds online, officers respond

A video involving the Iowa City Police Department has caused an uproar among community members after making rounds on Facebook over the weekend.

The video, shared publicly on Facebook by Robert Smith on Sept. 6, shows ICPD standing in the threshold of a rental unit and questioning whether or not a specific occupant (seen in the video wearing a red t-shirt) lives at the residence.

After a garbled response, the officer commands the individual to, “Get out. Now.” At this point, the individual — later identified by police as Roman Wilson — turns away and begins walking back into the apartment, leading an officer to grab Wilson’s t-shirt and point an electroshock weapon in his direction. A struggle ensues wherein several police officers enter the apartment in an attempt to subdue Wilson. Bystanders can be seen with their arms raised, with several questioning the nature — and legality — of the intrusion. The clip ends after the camera operator leaves the apartment in response to officer commands.

Upon uploading the video, Smith indicated that police had used an electroshock weapon on one of his friends.

According to the ICPD, which responded today to Little Village‘s request for comment, the incident took place in an apartment located at 40 S. Johnson St. on Sept. 6 at approximately 2:40 a.m. in response to a loud party, which officers had tracked from about a half block away.

“As [Sgt. Derek Frank] pulled up in front of this address he confirmed that the source of the noise was apartment #1 and observed 8-10 people on a porch,” Captain Jim Steffen wrote in an email to Little Village. “The people inside refused initially to answer the door, and when they did no one would take ownership of the apartment.”

According to Captain Steffen, the individual in the red t-shirt, identified as Roman Wilson, came to the door and attempted to close it while officers were attempting to track down the party host(s). Captain Steffen states that the video begins immediately after this incident, with Sgt. Frank asking whether or not Wilson lives at the apartment.

“He grunted a response and attempted to go back into the apartment,” Captain Steffen wrote. “He was told not to return inside and when he failed to stop, Sgt. Frank grabbed a hold of him. When he failed to comply with Sgt. Frank’s order not to go inside, the decision was made to place him under arrest for interference with official acts. He resisted arrest inside the apartment and that is what you witnessed on the posted video.”

Police Chief Samuel Hargadine indicates that a body camera, worn by Sgt. Frank, shows the entire incident as the ICPD describes it. Upon requesting this video, however, Captain Steffen wrote, “Sgt. Frank’s video from his body camera is evidence for an active case, and like all evidence, is not normally released to the public until all charges are settled in court.”

Captain Steffen notes that the apartment was eventually cleared and the two tenants, located after the fact, apologized for Wilson’s behavior. Wilson was charged with interference with official acts. In addition, one of the tenants was charged with keeping a disorderly house. Another occupant was also charged with interference with official acts as well as public intoxication when he, “slipped back into the apartment after leaving and being told not to return,” according to police.

With regard to the electroshock weapon, described by police as a Conducted Energy Device, authorities say the device was not used on Wilson or anyone else during the incident. Attempts to contact the video’s apparent owner, Robert Smith, have been unsuccessful.

“It was briefly displayed but then re-holstered,” Captain Steffen wrote.

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