Attorney of kicked protester seeks officer’s name

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — The attorney for a protester kicked by a northwestern Pennsylvania police officer as she was sitting on the street during civil unrest in Erie last month has filed court papers seeking the officer’s identity.

Attorney Timothy McNair said Monday he had filed for a writ of summons against the officers involved in the May 30 incident as well as the police chief, the mayor and the city. He said he expects to file a formal complaint alleging excessive force and arguing that his client was denied her constitutional right to demonstrate.

Erie officials announced last week that the unnamed officer would be suspended without pay for three days and would then be on desk duty until he completes sensitivity training. The mayor also said similar training will be required for the entire department.

The altercation happened shortly before midnight May 30 during nationwide demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd. Police said several hundred people descended on City Hall at night and began spray painting the building, breaking windows, pulling parking meters out of the ground, vandalizing shops and restaurants and throwing objects at police. Officers used tear gas and tried to disperse the crowd.

In a video of the incident, the officer is seen approaching a protester seated in the middle of the street and kicking her over.

Mayor Joe Schember and Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny both said the investigation had concluded the officer followed approved procedures and his use of force was technically justified. But the mayor said his actions warranted discipline.

McNair said the suspension should have been longer and denied the allegation that his client was trying to prevent officers from reaching more destructive individuals, saying she was “in an act of civil disobedience ... trying to be a pain in the neck.”

Floyd, who was black, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into the unarmed and handcuffed man’s neck even as he pleaded for air and stopped moving.