ALLENTOWN, Pa. | Allentown police are responding to a viral video showing a police officer kneeling on a man while he was being restrained outside the hospital.

The video has sparked outrage on social media, led to a protest Saturday night, and has been getting national attention.

Now, police are discussing the circumstances that led to the man being restrained.

According to a news release from Allentown police sent Sunday night, officers were at the Saint Luke's Hospital Sacred Heart Campus in the 400 block of West Chew Street for an unrelated matter when officers observed a man outside who was vomiting and staggering.

Police say the individual began to yell, scream and spit at the officers and hospital staff.

"As the officers attempted to restrain the individual, all parties fell to the ground," police said. "The individual continued to be non-compliant which required officers to restrain the individual and the hospital applied a spit shield."

Police said the man was escorted into the hospital for treatment. He was treated and later released, police said.

Shortly after the incident, a video posted on social media showing the man being restrained went viral.

The video, taken from a cell phone from an unknown car, shows three officers restraining the man. One officer appears to be using his arm and elbow on the man's back to restrain him, before pressing his knee on the man's head.

Later Saturday night, a group of more than 100 people marched from the monument at Seventh and Hamilton streets to the Allentown Police Department demanding answers and to ask what actions were being taken. 

People were seen chanting "no justice, no peace" and "defund the police".

"It's baffling to me that they don't feel like they're under a microscope as police officers," Maegan Llerena, executive director of Make the Road PA, said during the Saturday night protest. "After George Floyd happened, after people are still demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, etc. etc. that they wouldn't feel that there's pressure on them."  

Mayor Ray O’Connell and Allentown Police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. arrived at the protest to answer questions.

When O'Connell was asked his opinion on the video, he said, "When I look at it, I think it's disturbing. I think we have to gather all the facts and information before we go forward."

"We're going to take a look at it," Granitz replied to the protesters Saturday night. "We're going to go through everything and we're going to give you an update as soon as we can."

Earlier this month, the Allentown Police Department released a new excessive force policy. The policy bans neck restraints or chokeholds unless officers are preventing "imminent death or serious bodily injury" to a citizen or themselves--which is why protesters said they're questioning the need for such force to the neck in this case.

The Allentown Branch of the NAACP issued a statement Sunday night regarding the incident.

"We found the video concerning and disturbing," according to the statement. "The NAACP Allentown has been in contact with the Allentown Police Department. They have assured us that a thorough investigation is being done. Once those components of the investigation are completed, we will have the opportunity to further discuss the issues with the police department.

As the Allentown Police Department works through their new police policy protocols, we want them to ensure us that they are acting in a manner of integrity that shows both respect and safety for its citizens," according to the statement.

Sunday night, police officials said the investigation into this matter will be reviewed by the Lehigh County District Attorney's Office and an internal investigation of the use of force is being conducted by the Allentown Police Department.

The Lehigh County district attorney will issue a statement when his review is complete, which is anticipated later this week. The district attorney has assigned two county detectives to the investigation, according to police.

The news release from Allentown police concluded with the following information: "The investigation into this incident is moving swiftly. Part of the investigation has included the review of a 23-second video posted to social media. Although significant, the entirety of the interaction is being reviewed. Witnesses are being interviewed and additional videos of the interaction are being reviewed. We plan on releasing relevant videos later this week as we complete this inquiry."

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