Anchorage police officer charged with assault
An Anchorage Police officer is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the department's internal investigation, over an incident stemming from a bicycle violation.
A video posted online by the victim, which is corroborated by court documents, shows that the incident began September 30 when Officer Cornelius Pettus approached Samuel Allen over what he was wearing while riding a bicycle.
The video shows the following exchange:
"How you doing sir? I'm officer Pettus Anchorage Police Department. Do you have identification on you?"
"What crime you suspect me of?"
"Well you don't have reflective clothing or a light or rear reflector down here."
According to Alaska law, bicyclists are required to wear lamps or reflectors while riding at night.
The video posted by Allen shows him riding his bicycle while he passes multiple police vehicles, who don't make an attempt to stop him. It also shows him making an obscene gesture at the officers and yelling profanities.
Sometime later, charging documents say that "Officer Pettus snatched Mr. Allen's phone out of his hand, saying that it was 'evidence' related to the bike citations."
But apparently, the audio on the phone was still recording.
"Officer Pettus then punched Mr. Allen in the jaw and followed up the strike by kicking Mr. Allen in the groin," according to court documents. The video recording also suggests that Mr. Allen was sprayed with mace.
Anchorage police say that a supervisor conducted an automatic review of the use of force, and as a result of that review, APD initiated a criminal investigation. The case was then referred to the Department of Law, which charged him Friday.
Pettus, 32, has been an officer with APD since 2015.
Allen maintains that he was targeted for his insistence on video recording the officers.
Court records show that he was convicted for assault on a police officer in March 2019, something he believes was unfair. The incident in March, he says, is what led him to start videoing police conduct and posting it online.
Allen says he believes he was targeted in that conviction because he was homeless.
"I feel like because I was homeless at the time - it was obvious I was homeless, I was trying to sleep at Providence - so I feel there's a conspiracy against me," he told KTUU.
Court documents related to September's event say that Allen was "following the officers and taunting them," and videos show that he was using profanity, something he acknowledged.
"I don't condone my vulgarities to any big degree, but I do believe you have a right to speak up and redress your government," he said.
Officer Pettus's lawyer says there is no trial date set at this time.