A man who was shocked with a stun gun and arrested in Walden Galleria last week when he was questioned as a possible shoplifting suspect says that he was a victim of excessive force by Cheektowaga police.
And a bystander who said she saw the arrest backs up his claim.
Anthony Rose, 20, of Cheektowaga, and Ajah Brown, 20, of Buffalo, were walking through the mall Dec. 17 when they were approached by police because they fit the description of a pair of accused shoplifters at a clothing store, police said.
The police version is that when officers told Rose they wanted to question him about the shoplifting, he began yelling and fighting with officers and was subdued by a Taser. Brown also fought with officers, according to Cheektowaga police Capt. Jim Speyer.
Rose was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction, harassment, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Brown was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction. They were released on appearance tickets for Cheektowaga Town Court, Speyer said.
But after police arrested them on disorderly conduct, obstruction and related charges, a store manager said that although the two fit the description, they were not the shoplifters, Speyer said.
Now, Rose and a bystander who saw the confrontation are saying that Rose was violently apprehended.
"When they approached me, they asked me to step over to the corner. They were aggressive," Rose said. "They asked for my ID, and as I was reading it, they're grabbing on me and kind of pushing on me."
Sharon Harris, 48, said she was walking by the man when the incident occurred.
"[The officer] just threw him against the wall and said, 'I want to talk to you,' " Harris said. "And then they threw the girlfriend to the side and ripped her purse away. They took him to this walkway area, you couldn't really see, and you just heard some shuffling around."
Rose said he was attacked in the walkway, near the new retail section of Galleria.
"I heard people screaming and stuff, I heard someone say, 'Get on the floor,' " Rose said. "They were hitting me and kicking me and stuff. I was on the floor already, and then they tasered me twice. I'm a small guy off the bat, and then there are four or five officers hitting me and kicking me."
Harris said Rose wasn't the only one who was treated harshly. She said police ordered Brown to get against the wall.
"I guess she didn't move fast enough, because the police officer grabbed her and her jacket and pushed her up against wall," Harris said. "And she said, 'I was going to the wall' and they said, 'Are you resisting, too?' "
"It really was excessive force," Harris said.
Cheektowaga police Capt. David Zack said that if a complaint is filed with police, the claim of excessive force will be investigated internally.
"This particular deployment of the Taser is being reviewed, as are all incidents of this kind," he added. Zack said he did not have enough information about the incident to comment further.