Hartford police have launched an internal investigation after a video surfaced online showing an officer repeatedly striking a man.
The recording, posted on Facebook and YouTube, garnered more than 130,000 views in the 24 hours after was posted Monday.
Witnesses tell NBC Connecticut the man being hit, identified as 34-year-old Samuel Bryant, had just gone out to buy a wine cooler.
"He was screaming, 'Stop, stop, stop! I’m already on the floor. Stop!' The officer did not listen," said Hartford resident Tatiana Serrano.
Police said the video captures the end of an interaction which began on Mather Street and finished in an alley off of Brook Street on Sunday.
"I’m not here to condemn the officers’ actions nor am I here to justify the actions at this point," Hartford police Chief James Rovella said Tuesday. "There’s a lot to consider. It’s not in a vacuum. That video should not be considered in a vacuum."
Police said officers on patrol spotted Bryant, a convicted felon who was out on parole, drinking from a bottle in a paper bag on Mather Street. They would later discover the bottle was a wine cooler.
Officers questioned Bryant, who, they noticed, had a pocket knife. They thought he may have had a gun and attempted to pat him down and put him in handcuffs, according to police.
Authorities said Bryant then began to struggle with officers and took off. During the fight, Bryant struck an officer in the face and broke his nose, police said.
Officers fired a stun gun at Bryant several times while pursuing him. He continued his combative behavior while they tried to get a hold of him, prompting officers to strike Bryant with a baton to get him on the ground and into handcuffs, according to police.
Bryant was transported to St. Francis Hospital, where he received two staples to his head. He was later released into police custody.
One of the officers was also taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of a broken nose and bruises.
Police said they later found seven plastic bags of cocaine in Bryant’s jacket and hundreds of dollars in cash.
Bryant is now facing charges of public drinking, interfering with police, assault on police, second-degree assault and possession of narcotics.
NAACP leaders at first called the video "ugly" but now say talking to police helped clear things up.
"Now I feel different because I have been able to see a different picture," said Greater Hartford NAACP President Imam Abdul-Shahid Muhammad Ansari.
According to the police report, Bryant said after his arrest that he was drinking when officers had arrived and "panicked." He said he "didn’t mean to hurt anybody."
Bryant went on to say that after he was beaten and taken down, he told the injured officer, "Hey man, I’m sorry for accidentally hitting you," according to the report.
A supervising sergeant completed a "Use of Less Lethal Force Report" Monday, the day after the incident, and found "the amount of force used by the officer was appropriate and proportional to the resistance used by the suspect."
The chief of police has ordered an internal investigation into the incident, which could take months, if not longer.