As a viral video incident involving an off-duty police officer remains under investigation, the St. Joseph Police Department released information Wednesday on what led up to the clip that has been circulating along with the rest of the footage from the person who posted it.
A video that racked up more than 1.6 million views on TikTok and made the front page of Reddit under the name “Trump supporting police officer threatens civilian” shows a man wearing off-duty clothing yelling at another man to “sit down” while a uniformed police officer watches near a white SUV.
According to Capt. Jeff Wilson with the SJPD, on the day the video was shot a suspect’s vehicle had been identified by an on-duty captain with the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force as one that had fled from him on a previous date.
The captain tried to get behind the vehicle to perform a traffic stop, but the the vehicle took off, Wilson said.
The captain told police officials he recognized one of the subjects and said the vehicle, a white Lincoln Navigator, was driving in a reckless manner that continued for a distance, running multiple stop signs and traveling at high speeds. It eventually struck two cars, including one belonging to an off-duty St. Joseph police officer, Brandon Harrison, and then continued on. The captain decided to not continue the pursuit at that time.
Wilson said Harrison called in to report a hit-and-run, which officers begin to investigate while also getting a call at the same time from the individuals in the Lincoln, who were attempting to report a hit-and-run as well.
When a female officer arrived on the scene, she believed the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run was the same one that was fleeing from the Drug Strike Force captain. She asked Harrison to come to the scene to identify the vehicle.
In addition, the officer also notified the captain to respond to the scene to identify the vehicle as well as those operating it.
Wilson said the officer was trying to obtain information from the individuals and discovered the vehicle was not properly registered and didn’t have any insurance.
In the video released by the police department Wednesday, one of the individuals in the Lincoln said they were on their way to the DMV.
Wilson also stated that a male individual had made some “pretty demeaning comments to (Harrison), at the same time stepping off the curb coming toward the officers, and that’s when you see Officer Harrison step up in the clip.”
The police department is investigating the incident based on what Harrison said.
“We’re going to look into every detail of that as to why that took place and then that officer will be held accountable if we deem those actions to be inappropriate,” Wilson said. “I will tell you that there will be some sort of action taken and accountability, but it won’t be driven by the public.”
When asked about the procedures when it comes to an off-duty officer responding, Wilson said, “Any off-duty officer, when they arrive on a scene and the other officer needs assistance for whatever reason is going to identify themselves and perform as an officer.”
Brad Kerns, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, also made a statement on the matter.
“We do hold our members accountable for their actions and when they make mistakes, just like any other human does, we ask that they hold themselves accountable,” Kerns said. “We don’t try to minimize or skirt around anything they do, but by the same token, we also want to make sure that our members get the due process that they are afforded.”
The police department hopes to conclude the investigation soon and will give an update on the outcome.