A Black shopper was violently arrested on Monday in a Pennsylvania Walmart after “test riding a bike” he bought for his son. In a disturbing viral footage shot by witnesses, the man named Stanley Gracius, was tased, hogtied before viciously tackled to the floor inside the shop, TooFab.com reports. Gracius asked why he was being arrested but received no response.
“Why are you doing this to me? I paid for my stuff! I have a receipt! Please stop! I didn’t do anything wrong!” Gracius could be heard shouting. “You didn’t have to do this! Somebody, please tell me why these cops are doing this to me.”
The incident sparked accusations of racial profiling against the management of the shop.
According to the Berks County, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Office, Wyomissing police officers were sent to the Walmart after “an individual who was riding a bicycle through the store, playing loud music and yelling profanities at other shoppers” refused to leave when asked by the store manager.
The DA’s account was, however, renounced by eyewitnesses who shared the footage of the chaos online. “He did nothing wrong,” one of the persons who shared the videos wrote, adding that store employees “racially profiled him.” An officer said the man was free to go since he had paid but then began restraining the man shortly after, according to the account.
today in walmart (1135 berkshire blvd in Wyomissing, PA) the police unnecessarily used excessive force by tazing a black man who did NOTHING WRONG. (1) pic.twitter.com/MJ7q3vOPu0— layla (@labousaab44) July 21, 2020
“The kind man was test riding a bike through the store while playing some music and telling random strangers he hopes they have a great day and complimenting them,” another witness wrote. “He was absolutely no bother to anyone.”
The witness continued: “Tell me why a man who was ABOUT TO LEAVE THE STORE had to go through all of this at CHECKOUT. If he was bothering people (which he wasn’t) they should have dealt with the situation more reasonably.
“They could have made him leave or kicked him out. There was NO NEED TO TACKLE AND TAZE THIS INNOCENT MAN. AS HE WAS LEAVING.”
The video of the incident recorded 12,000 likes and about 8,200 retweets and comments as of July 22, Miamiherald reports.
Gracius was charged with “aggravated assault, simple assault, disarming law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, defiant trespass, and disorderly conduct.”
He had previously pleaded guilty to disarming law enforcement and criminal trespass stemming from a similar incident in 2014, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
“The defendant was detained by the Wyomissing Police and at all times during the encounter, the Wyomissing Police showed restraint, acted professionally, and did a good job de-escalating the situation with the defendant,” the district attorney’s office said.
The Reading Eagle reports that protest had already been planned at the Wyomissing Police Department in response to the viral video.