By Sabrina Bates
A cell phone video, along with images from a scene in downtown Martin involving a Martin Police officer and a demonstrator, have gone viral on social media since the incident Saturday afternoon.
Posts on Facebook claim the police officer threatened to “beat” one of the demonstrators who was a part of the protests staged in downtown Martin as a solidarity movement in response to the recent death of George Floyd in Minnesota while in police custody.
In the viral video footage, Adrian Oliver is heard shouting claims of a threat of bodily harm by MPD’s Lt. John Cross and repeated demands for Cross to turn on his body camera.
The MPD lieutenant was on patrol Saturday in downtown Martin tasked with ensuring a safe and protected environment for the protesters, according to the Martin Police Department.
Traffic routes have been detoured downtown as a result of construction of the new public library. Cross conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle who had made a wrong-way turn along S. Lindell Street.
Prior to exiting his patrol vehicle, Lt. Cross turned on his body camera and proceeded to talk to the driver of the vehicle.
The Press viewed the officer’s body camera footage from the incident. The video is in complete contrast to the narrative surrounding the circumstances from Saturday currently being depicted on Facebook.
A couple of minutes into the traffic stop, a voice can be heard up the street resembling Oliver’s voice based on the cell phone footage circulating on social media. One can hear, “How you doing, b****,” shouted out in the background. It was after a second time the phrase was shouted when Cross turned and body camera footage shows a vehicle stopped in the middle of S. Lindell Street and Oliver crossing the street engaging in a verbal exchange with the driver. The officer lets the wrong-way driver go with a warning.
After asking what was going on and advising Oliver to get out of the street, Cross is then heard telling Oliver, “that man (the driver in the middle of the street) will beat you within an inch of your life. You don’t know him like I do.”
He orders the driver of the vehicle stopped in the middle of the street to go on. Oliver accuses Cross of telling him he (Cross) was going to beat his ass. Cross is heard reiterating his earlier statement of telling Oliver the driver of the vehicle would beat him ….
Oliver is heard yelling at Cross to turn on his body camera. Cross tells Oliver his body camera is on.
The officer orders Oliver to stay out of the street or he was going to have to arrest him before walking away from the verbal exchange.
The actions by the officer did not violate any department policies. Saturday Oliver filed a written statement with the MPD regarding the incident.
Cross has been an officer with the Martin Police Department for nearly 20 years and is a United States Air Force veteran.
“During these peaceful protests, we are dedicated to keeping people safe in every way we know how. We are dedicated to keeping them safe from harassment and harm,” Martin Police Chief Don Teal said.
“We understand what the country is going through right now. What happened in Minnesota is a terrible thing and it hurts us all, including law enforcement. This is a difficult time for everyone and I understand the anger, protests and demonstrations.
“It is our responsibility to protect citizens in our custody. Once we have someone detained, that person is in our care and we are the ones responsible for their safety. What happened in Minnesota was appalling. I believe justice will be served,” Teal added.
Editor’s note: Sabrina Bates is the news producer for the Weakley County Press. She may be contacted by email at [email protected]