Richmond VA February 8 2023 A video that surfaced on social media this week seemed to show a Virginia Commonwealth University police officer using force during a traffic stop on North Belvidere Street.
But body camera footage police released Tuesday shows the suspect, Paul Willis IV, quickly grab with his left hand at the officer’s hip.
“He’s trying to grab my gun,” shouted the officer, who has not been identified by police. “Get off my gun,” the officer repeated.
A struggle commenced, and the two men pulled at one another. After several seconds, the camera fell from its position, and the officer can be seen wrestling Willis to the ground.
Willis, 31, has been charged with obstruction of justice and assault and battery on a law enforcement officer.
It is unclear who shot the bystander video, which was filmed from across the street. As the camera zooms in, the officer can be seen punching Willis in the stomach, twisting Willis’ arm behind his back and pushing Willis to the ground.
The video circulated on social media this week.
Police said the encounter took place Saturday on the 300 block of West Main Street, where police were officers were conducting speed enforcement. The area is not far from where a VCU student was struck and killed by a vehicle last month.
Around 11 a.m., police attempted to pull over a driver going 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. Willis, driving a red Infiniti, stopped on North Belvidere Street, about nine blocks away.
Willis immediately exited the car, even though the officer told him not to. Then the officer told Willis he was speeding.
“I think you’re messing with me,” Willis said, according to the video.
The officer put his right hand on Willis’s left arm. The officer continually asked Willis to sit down in his car. Willis asked why the officer was grabbing him and stated that he had not done anything wrong.
Backed against the car, Willis lunged at the officer with his left hand. An scuffle ensued, and the officer punched Willis several times with his left fist.
Seconds later, it was over, and Willis was cuffed.
Both Willis and the officer were treated for minor injuries. Investigation into the incident continues, a police spokesperson said. Willis is being held on bond.