The mother of a Black man who was left with a bloodied and swollen face after a police traffic stop in Florida says she did not recognize her own son in viral images of the incident.
Video footage went viral over the weekend showing Le’Keian Woods, 24, being forcefully restrained by officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida on Friday. At one point, one of the officers appears to slam Woods’ head into the ground as he lay chest-down by the side of a road.
Woods’ family hired civil rights lawyer Harry Daniels, who in turn told USA Today that Woods had been pulled over for a seatbelt violation before he was “beaten by multiple” officers. The video of the incident, which was filmed by a bystander, later shows Woods’ eyes swollen and face bloodied as he’s propped up against the legs of one of the officers.
She also expressed her shock at the officers’ actions depicted in the footage. “I saw them kick my son and slam his face on the ground,” she said. “I could not believe they would do that to a person because if you kick a dog or do something to an animal, you’re going down. So it’s OK to beat a human down like that?”
In a statement Saturday, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said his agency is now conducting a review into the incident. On Friday, he said, “JSO officers were involved in an incident… in which force was used taking a subject into custody.”
“The agency takes all allegations of inappropriate use of force by JSO officers seriously,” he added.
Daniels told the Associated Press on Sunday that following Woods’ arrest, he was taken to hospital where he was treated for a severe concussion. In a statement the day before, Daniels said Woods was lucky to still be alive.
“If this video of the officers repeatedly assaulting Le’Keian, slamming his head in the ground and tossing him around like a rag doll while he’s handcuffed and defenseless isn’t enough to convince you that these officers need to be off the street, just look at Le’Keian’s face,” Daniels said. “He looks like he just went 12 rounds with a professional boxer.”
Woods was being held in custody on Sunday night on a range of charges including armed traffic of cocaine, armed traffic of methamphetamine, resisting an officer with violence, and other offenses. Earlier, on Sunday afternoon, protesters gathered outside the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters calling for justice.
“It hurt me so bad because I can’t touch him,” Woods’ mother said. “I can’t nurture him. I can’t protect him. I’m a mother. So I won’t be able to hold my son. I can’t see him. This is really bothering me at this time. I just want justice for my son.”