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Mother of man in controversial downtown arrest video speaks out, has questions for police

PITTSBURGH — The mother of Jashon Martin, who is the man at the center of a controversial arrest downtown, is speaking out. She says she has some serious questions for the officers involved and the Pittsburgh Police Department.

“To see him punching my son, I felt every punch,” Dymnd Martin tells Channel 11. “It was overwhelming.”

Martin says she was sick to her stomach watching her son’s arrest Friday night on Smithfield Street near Strawberry Way. Police say they arrested Jashon Martin for dealing crack cocaine, after surveilling him for over four hours. Court documents say police took him down with a maneuver called a “bear hug” believing he had a weapon on him.

Police say Martin resisted arrest for several minutes and kept reaching at his waistband like he had a weapon. That’s when an officer says he punched Martin. That officer claims Martin bit him, causing him to punch again.

Related Coverage >> Pittsburgh Public Safety aware of ‘use of force’ by officers during arrest, incident under review

“He told me he was in a lot of pain,” Martin said, recalling a conversation she had with her son in jail. “Uncalled for, totally uncalled for. There was no need for that force. He was already detained.”

At one point in the cell phone video you even see a fellow officer push back his colleague’s hand as if to stop him from punching. Later in the video, an officer jumps on Martin with his knees.

“I would like an explanation from the officer about why he felt the need to keep punching my son, continuously, while there’s a knee in his back,” Martin said.

Pittsburgh police say the officers are not on leave. Tim Stevens, the Chairman and CEO of the Black Political Empowerment Project, says he’s calling for all the officers involved to be put on desk duty at least until an investigation is complete.

“If it is found, what we think from our eyes, that some of these officers are guilty of outright force, they should be removed,” Tim Stevens said. “Minimally - seriously disciplined.”

Wednesday night, the President of the NAACP Pittsburgh is meeting with Pittsburgh’s Police Chief. BPEP is also calling for an in-person meeting with the chief in the next 48 hours.

We asked Martin’s mother if she was aware the police report indicated her son had a knife near him at the time of his arrest.

“I cannot comment on what the police found at this time,” Ms. Martin said.

Martin also wouldn’t comment on whether or not the family has retained a lawyer for the allegations of excessive force.

The Citizen Police Review Board is an independent agency. They’ve opened an investigation into this arrest. There is also an internal investigation happening at the city level.

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