Police Beat Subdued Man and Destroy The Evidence in Southwest MO

To whom it may concern,

My name is Shaun Serafine, and I am a twenty-three year old Springfield resident. I am writing in response to the article “Seven Arrested After Downtown Brawl” that I read this morning on the News-Leader website. The article came as a shock to me because I was present to witness many of the events it described, and the version of this story that is now in print has left out the most important and striking elements of the incident. I feel that the article only presents the facts as told by the Springfield Police Department.

The story fails to mention that the police were confiscating cell phones and cameras that people used to take photo and video footage of the incident. It also fails to mention that witnesses who peacefully asked for badge numbers or some explanation for the police violence happening before their eyes were threatened by police officers with tasers, pepper spray, and arrest. No one I know or talked to who was there saw anyone assault a police officer, only police officers assaulting bystanders. A personal friend of mine who was simply walking down the sidewalk nearby with his mother began taking photos of the incident as police tried to herd them away. Police then maced his forty-year old mother until and while she was on her knees. They proceeded to smash my friends camera, worth over two thousand dollars and then full of evidence, before arresting him.

At one point, I walked across the street in an attempt to distance myself from the situation, and ended up getting even deeper into this prime example of police brutality in our country. I ducked into the street front entryway to the lofts above the Bistro Market to watch what was happening from a safer location, and suddenly an African American male in his mid-twenties who was walking by got shoved forcibly to the ground right in front of me. It was then that I saw his hands were cuffed behind his back, and at least six police officers proceeded to surround him. This blocked me and the handcuffed man both into the entryway with no way to get out. I was terrified as I watched the six male police officers beat the man with their night sticks until the sidewalk had blood running across it. They yelled for him not to resist arrest as the man clearly laid on the ground and made no attempts at escape or assault or even speech. One officer turned toward me, made eye contact, and raised his night stick as though to strike me. I was literally terrified that I was going to be next, but then he turned back toward the handcuffed man and continued beating him instead.

Finally I turned to the only female officer present, who also looked frightened as she “kept watch” while the men senselessly beat a subdued man, and asked her if i could get out of the confined space into which I was being blocked. She motioned for me to quietly sneak out of the circle while the other officers weren’t looking and made me a gap through which to escape. As soon as I exited the circle, the gap was closed and the beating continued. And what does one do about something like that? Call the police?

The article states, “No significant injuries were reported.” I can’t help but wonder then, what happened to the man I saw bleeding all over the sidewalk, and the people I saw being loaded into ambulances?

I understand that a lot of terrible things go on in this country, and that law enforcement officials are necessary in a world where people cannot be counted on to do what’s right simply for the sake of doing what’s right. But when the police become more frightening than the criminals they are supposed to be protecting us against, something in our definitions of right and wrong needs to be reassessed. And it’s the duty of the media to present all the facts. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story.

– Shaun Serafine

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