GBI investigating police beating of Black man in Douglas, GA

Pernell Harris, a 29-year-old Black man, was tased and beaten by police officers for resisting arrest in Douglas, Ga. This week the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident that landed Harris in intensive care unit of a local hospital.

According to local news outlet, Harris was nearly beaten to death by Coffee County Police last week. Now, Harris’ family and the Coffee County chapter of the NAACP along with the GBI are looking for answers.

Here’s what happened according to Douglas Now:

Late last week, deputies responded to a call involving Harris and his girlfriend. After handcuffing Harris, he refused to go with deputies, according to the video footage. Deputies struggled with him as they tried to remove him from the home. Once outside, Harris, who had been handcuffed in front of his body, grabbed the handrail on the front steps of the home. Two deputies attempted to get him off the handrail by hitting his hands, dry stunning him multiple times with a TASER, and, at one point, grabbing him by his hair and pulling him backwards. Eventually, officers wrestled Harris to the ground, where they uncuffed him and re-cuffed his hands behind his back. As many as seven deputies were holding him on the ground during this time.

Harris was eventually taken to the Coffee County Jail, where he went into distress and was transported to Coffee Regional Medical Center. Harris was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit, where he remains Monday.

In the video of the incident, posted on social media, Harris’ girlfriend can be heard telling him to stop resisting just before he is thrown in the back of the cop car, according to Douglas Now.

On Tuesday, the GBI announced its investigation into the use of force during the incident. So far, according to Douglas Now, the police department has not yet made any comment about the social media videos of the arrest or responded to an open records request for the officers’ body camera footage and incident report.

Douglas Now notes that the Coffee County chapter of the NAACP launched its own private investigation. The local chapter is also holding a prayer walk for Harris on Thursday, according to a flyer posted on its Facebook account.

Harris was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of felony obstruction of an officer, one count of felony interference with government property, and one count of misdemeanor cruelty to a child in the 3rd degree, according to the GBI’s statement.


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