DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are investigating an eastern Iowa arrest after video posted on social media showed a handcuffed Black man having a seizure and apparently struggling to breathe after officers used pepper spray on him.
Dubuque officials said an internal investigation will review the Friday night arrest of Yoosuf Moment. Police said Moment resisted officers before they used pepper spray on him. He was treated at a hospital after the arrest and released after he was ticketed on suspicion of driving without a valid license and interfering with police.
“The city is aware of the concerns related to this incident, and we want to assure the community that the city is taking action and is committed to a thorough investigation into the conduct of all involved,” City Manager Mike Van Milligen said in a statement. “Now, as always, we need open and ongoing communication to ensure that community members of color are heard and feel safe in interactions with law enforcement.”
The co-founder of a local group formed this year after protests were held in Dubuque over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was able to review police video of Moment’s arrest. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after a white police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, despite his pleas for air.
“Questionable force was used,” said Dereka Williams, of Dubuque’s Switching Places Foundation. “However, some rumors of what happened appear not valid.”
Police said in a statement that the only force used during the arrest was “pepper spray and the officer(s) trying to secure Moment’s arms.”
Court documents say police engaged Moment, 41, at a gas station after an officer saw him drive a vehicle up to a gas pump around 9:30 p.m. Friday because Moment had been arrested three weeks earlier on suspicion of driving without a valid license.
Authorities said Moment pulled his hands away when an officer tried to handcuff him and that pepper spray was then used on him. After being sprayed, he complied and gave the officer his other hand. He then told the officer “he could not breathe, and he began to have what appeared to be a seizure,” police say in court documents.
Video taken by bystanders shows Moment lying on the ground having a seizure while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.
Officers called paramedics, who treated Moment at the gas station and took him to a hospital.
Moment was released after being cited for suspicion of driving while barred and interfering with police. Authorities said a 17-year-old boy in Moment’s vehicle was also cited on suspicion of interfering with police and possessing marijuana. He was released to a parent.
Moment is represented by the Dubuque County public defender’s office, which did not immediately respond to a message Sunday.