Residents speak out about arrest

August 29, 2008 4:28:16 PM PDT
Labar Pratt, 31, is behind bars and faces a number of charges including possession of drugs and assault on a police officer.However, residents of the Brookside Park Apartments say the real crime happened after Pratt was captured and subdued in handcuffs.

Pratt and the officer who arrested him were taken to the hospital Wednesday night after the incident.

Several residents used their cell phones to record the alleged beating, but the video was so dark it's hard to make out what was going on. Despite that, eyewitnesses say they got a clear view.

Residents who live in the apartments say Wednesday night they witnessed what they say was excessive force by Southern Pines Police Officer Paul Wright during the arrest of Pratt.

"He was handcuffed just like this right here and his body was just like this right here," witness Lesha Graham said. "You got the police on this side had his knee right here."

Pratt was handcuffed to a fence residents call the gun line. It's near the entrance to the apartment complex. That's were eyewitnesses say officer Wright kicked the suspect in the groin and punched him several times in the face.

"I seen him kick him. And whenever he kicked him he kneed him all in the stomach and stuff," witness Niesha Mclean said. "And then ... he was handcuffed at that point and I always thought that whenever they handcuff you they can't touch you. They can't beat on you."

Police Chief John Letteney says the incident is under review by his department even though no one, not even the suspect has filed a formal complaint.

The chief says Pratt assaulted and bit his officer during the arrest. Eyewitnesses say that doesn't justify Pratt being beaten just about unconscious after he was already subdued.

"They took him to the car; he was limped over like he was passed out. We asked them what's wrong with him and the act like they didn't even want to tell us what was wrong with him," witness Chaucey Williams said. "The cops be harassing people up here. They really need to stop. It was pitiful. He was really beaten pretty bad."


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