Gulfport Police Investigate Officer Attack & Allegations Of Excessive Force

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Gulfport police are investigating an assault on a police officer that happened Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of Three Rivers and Rippy Road.

There are also allegations that police used excessive force in the arrest which followed the incident.

"And it was just too much brute force for me," said Rose Green, who saw Gulfport police arrest Tracy Butler.

"More than excessive. More than excessive," said Ronald Jackson, who is Butler's cousin and also witnessed the arrest.

Both Green and Jackson say the force used by police when they arrested Butler included pepper spray, multiple shots with a taser and dropping the suspect on his head.

"Grabbed him, picked him up and threw him. When he did, he pushed his head to the ground. And I ran to him and said, 'Wait, wait, he has seizures. Wait a minute.' And by that time, they were tasing him," said Green.

"I can't say what I want to say, but Lord have mercy!" Jackson told WLOX News.

"And I pulled up right here and saw them tase him and saw them throw him on the ground and bust his head, instead of trying to figure out what's wrong with you," says Jackson, who believes his cousin was having a seizure.

Police say Butler's attack on the officer was unprovoked. The police report says Butler was laying in the middle of the road, posing a traffic hazard. When a motorcycle officer stopped to see if Butler was okay, the suspect assaulted him.

"The individual laying on the ground got up, got aggressive with the officer. Actually attacked the officer. The officer radioed for emergency assistance and other officers responded a few minutes later they were able to finally apprehend the individual, taking him into custody," said Deputy Chief Alfred Sexton.

The two witnesses who say they saw officers use excessive force admit they did not see how this whole incident began. They told WLOX News the Tracy Butler they know would never assault a police officer, which is exactly what Gulfport police say he did.

"Just like any incident, everybody sees 30 second spots. But you know, the individuals who were there from the very beginning, all the way to the end, we've interviewed all those witnesses. We're continuing to interview individuals," said Sexton.

Rose Green says she saw enough to make her upset.

"It was just too much excessive force for one person. Too many police officers on one person. It don't take nine or ten," she said.

"It was just sickening to see that," said Ronald Jackson.

Tracy Butler faces a felony charge of simple assault on a police officer.  Both Butler and the unidentified officer were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.