A cell phone video of a dramatic arrest and confrontation has put Cortland Police in the spotlight. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about the controversy that's exploded online, and why viewers may not be getting the whole picture.
A late night scuffle with police, grainy cell phone video, and a heated confrontation has online message boards reflecting the conflict.
The video was taken on Main Street in Cortland at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
Police say the man being placed into custody had been causing trouble at the Stone Lounge before throwing a trash can lid at people outside the bar.
"He ended up fighting with officers, resisting arrest," said Cortland Police Lieutenant Richard Troyer. "The officers fell to the ground, were unable to control him, and tased him. At that point, he stopped fighting and was placed under arrest."
Cortland resident Blake Dudek posted the video to YouTube, and titled it "Bad cops cortland, ny"
During the arrest, a bright light is shined at the camera, ruining the view.
Shortly after, a man approached Dudek, screaming profanities at him while demanding he stop filming.
"People were upset because a gentleman went over and started yelling at the party videotaping what the police were doing, wrestling, and fighting with this guy," Troyer explained. "There were some words exchanged. After the guy was placed under control the officers went over there and diffused the situation without any problems.
The dramatic video has since gone viral, attracting tens of thousands of hits.
But one man says what you see in the video isn't the whole picture.
"It's like opening a book and reading a chapter out of the middle and thinking you know the entire plot," said Stone Lounge Manager Joseph Hage, who says his family and friends have been harassed since the video went online.
Hage is the one seen yelling in the video. He says he was the one attacked by the man being arrested.
"He shoved me backwards into my staff," Hage said. "He ripped off the lid to a garbage can out front. He struck me in the arm and the side of the face. As I fell back he stepped back and threw the lid like a Frisbee."
On the sidelines during the assault, Hage claims, was Dudek.
"He was making remarks," Hage said. "'You've got to hide behind your goons. Why don't you just do something about it?' Laughing, giggling; instigating, basically."
Hage says that's why he was so angry in the video.
"I kept saying over and over in the video, 'Why didn't you tape me? Why don't you tape me?'" Hage said. "My argument is I'm being assaulted on the street, my staff are being assaulted. He doesn't pull his phone out once. When the police show up, for whatever reason, that's when he chooses to pull his phone out. I'm not saying that what I did is justified, because it isn't. But at least it's explained."
As for the officers involved in the arrest, Hage agrees they warned the suspect several times before they tased him.
And while heated words continue to flare online, police say Dudek declined to file a complaint against Hage, bringing the incident to a close, at least for now.
Blake Dudek said he was not available to be interviewed this week.
Cortland Police say they do not prevent individuals from recording police activity in public.