July 13, 2020 / 6:31 PM / 24 days ago

Police in Pennsylvania, Louisiana probing officers kneeling on suspects

(Reuters) - Authorities in two U.S. cities are investigating incidents over the weekend in which police officers knelt on suspects’ necks, similar to the way a Minneapolis policeman restrained George Floyd before he died.

Allentown, Pennsylvania, police said on Monday they are conducting a “use of force” investigation after a police officer was seen on a cell phone video kneeling on the neck of a man lying face down outside a hospital on Saturday.

“The investigation into this incident is moving swiftly,” the Allentown Police Department said in a statement, noting that the probe will be reviewed by the local district attorney.

The department said the officers involved in the incident were restraining a man who was vomiting and staggering before he screamed and spit on them. The unidentified man was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released, it said.

The incident sparked a demonstration later that evening, with protesters chanting Floyd’s name as they marched.

Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to Floyd’s neck in May. The incident triggered worldwide protests against racial injustice along with calls for similar restraining tactics to be prohibited.

In a similar incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a police officer knelt on the back of the neck of a Black teenager on Sunday evening before officers stood the teenage man up and led him away in handcuffs, a cell phone video circulating online showed.

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome told The Advocate newspaper that the city’s police department opened an investigation.

“I ask that the community allow us to take the proper steps necessary to investigate and swiftly determine the outcome,” she said.

It was unclear why the teenager was detained. Police officials did not respond immediately to a Reuters request for a statement.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler

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