Video Shows Police Officer Choking Black Man Outside CVS

A police officer working at a CVS Pharmacy in Washington, D.C. has been filmed choking a Black man, who said he couldn't breathe, outside the store.

Leezia Dhalla told Newsweek that the encounter took place outside the store located at 1199 Vermont Ave NW, just a few blocks from the White House, at around 9.40 p.m. on Monday night.

Dhalla said the man had been running away from the store when the officer chased him out into the street.

"I was on my way home during a jog and saw the police officer tackle the man to the ground in the middle of the street/on a lane of traffic," she said. "Cars were driving past and I was so afraid they were going to get run over."

She posted a minute-long video of the incident on her Twitter page.

The video starts with the officer, who also appears to be Black, restraining the man in the middle of the street as he tells the officer: "Leave me alone, I ain't bother you."

In the first 20 seconds, the man struggles to breathe (he says "I can't breathe") as the police officer in the black vest chokes him.

At 1:10, the guard in the white tells the police officer to let up. The officer was punching man before my camera recorded this.@CVSHealth #M4BL

— Leezia (@AskLeez) July 14, 2020

The officer then starts choking the man using both hands and tells him to "stop resisting" several times as he lays on the ground.

"I can't breathe, man," the man can be heard saying.

"Calm down," the officer tells him.

Around 20 seconds into the video, Dhalla can be heard telling the officer: "Get off of him, he can't breathe."

But the officer continues to restrain the man by the neck for almost another 30 seconds until a security guard intervenes.

Dhalla added: "I'm not sure why the officer felt it was necessary to provoke and escalate a fight in the middle of the street with a man who was trying to run away from the CVS.

"The man kept saying he didn't do anything, as you hear in the video. The video clearly shows an aggressive officer who lacks proper de-escalation training to the point where a security guard has to tell him to release his grip from the man's neck."

She added: "It's even more worrying the officer got so close to the gentleman without wearing a mask or gloves in the middle of a deadly pandemic. If police officers truly care about public safety, they should put down their guns and pick up a face mask!"

In a statement to Newsweek, a CVS spokesman said: "We're deeply disturbed by the video taken outside of our store. This type of force appears wholly unnecessary, regardless of what happened inside.

"The actions of the security guard, who is not a CVS employee, violate our security policies and practices which are designed to ensure the safety of customers and employees.

"The guard will never again work security details at any of our stores, and we're in discussions with our third-party security contractor on corrective actions as we continue to investigate this matter."

The incident comes after weeks of protests against police brutality across the U.S., including in the nation's capital, after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, on May 25.

Lafayette Square, which is located near the CVS where the incident occurred, has been the site of numerous demonstrations.

Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter while three other officers involved in the death are also facing charges.

Protesters have called to "defund the police" and some police departments across the country have taken steps to implement reform, such as by banning chokeholds and neck restraints.

This article has been updated with comments from Leezia Dhalla and CVS.

A man passes a CVS drugstore February 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images