Fort Lauderdale police say that video that shows an officer tackling a bicyclist during a Critical Mass cycling advocacy ride Friday doesn't tell the full story of the confrontation.
Dan Littell says police used excessive force when they arrested him on East Las Olas Boulevard during the monthly ride to promote cycling awareness. YouTube video appears to show an officer knocking him off his bike and holding him to the ground.
"Keep in mind just because an officer is captured on video using force, that footage alone is not conclusive that the officer’s actions were not justified," Fort Lauderdale Police spokeswoman Det. DeAnna Greenlaw said in a statement Monday. "Obviously, the video in question does not capture all of the events that took place leading up to the physical arrest, and we ask that the media and the public not make premature conclusions."
Littell said a Fort Lauderdale Police cruiser was speeding next to the cyclists on the bridge, a dangerous spot for the bike riders.
"I yelled, 'Please slow down, we're on bikes here,'" Littell said.
He said the officer ignored him, so he pulled into the left lane from the right lane, where other cyclists were pedaling, and pulled in front of the police car.
"To block them to slow them down," Littell said. "Because they weren't slowing down... They were driving recklessly."
Police, meanwhile, said Littell was confrontational and started giving them the middle finger as he cut them off. According to the arrest report, the officers were operating in an emergency capacity to assist other officers and had repeatedly told Littell to move into his assigned lane.
"There were several opportunities given to this individual to stop his behavior," said Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Frank Sousa.
Littell disobeyed commands to move to the sidewalk from the officers and attempted to block the patrol vehicle, telling the officers "go ahead and hit me," the police report said.
"When you're putting yourself in a situation that oculd harm yourself or an officer, there had to be action taken," Captain Sousa said.
One of the officers admitted in the report to having grabbed Littell and pushed him to the ground. Video uploaded to YouTube by another cyclist shows the moment Littell was arrested.
"I finally did stop, and they were stopped too," Littell said. "He could have come over and talked to me. I wasn't trying to run away or do anything crazy."
Littell was later charged with obstruction, failure to obey a law enforcement officer, improper lane change, failure to yield and impeding traffic.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said it is conducting an administrative investigation. Police also said they take it upon themselves to help riders maneuver through the city during Critical Mass but that some riders are disrespectful and hard to maneuver.