COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Columbia Police Chief “Skip” Holbrook responded to an arrest that escalated and turned violent in the Five Points area in the early hours of Sunday morning when a Columbia Police officer repeatedly punched a man while pinning him to a car.
Chief Holbrook held a press conference on Monday afternoon, saying that he felt the narrative of the incident was being misrepresented by the witness videos on social media that were only showing a portion of the incident.
Holbrook said upon investigation, including looking at street camera footage, body camera footage, and speaking with the officer, he gathered that the officer followed protocol in a case of an individual resisting arrest.
Holbrook said Jacob Cohen, the individual who was arrested, first made contact with the officer at a crosswalk when Cohen tried to cross the street into oncoming traffic.
The officer tried to get Cohen to move back and that’s when resist and chase occurred, Holbrook said.
Derrick Quarles, who was standing on Devine Street when the incident occurred, said that many of the bystanders were afraid.
“Everyone was just up in arms,” Quarles said. “They were terrified. They were horrified. They couldn’t believe what they just saw. A lot of people were saying they had ever witnessed anything like this except on TV.”
He said the officer punched Cohen six times in the face. He said the officer told him that Cohen was grabbing the officer’s wrists and the officer felt like he was losing control of the situation.
Another person, who identifies himself as a police officer, seemingly in plain clothes, helped the officer take the man to the ground. Shortly after, another officer in uniform showed up to help get the suspect to his feet.
Holbrook said Cohen told authorities he was not injured and was walked to a police car after the incident. He says the videos on social media didn’t show an accurate representation of the entire incident.
Cohen was charged with pedestrian unlawfully crossing the roadway, resisting arrest, and failure to stop on police command.
Holbrook said they had 26 officers working in the Five Points area Saturday night.
“I believe that had the cop been with another cop, and they both were at the scene at the same time, the scene might have gone a little different," Quarles said. "I think that the other cop might have been able to help him control the guy so that it wouldn’t have gotten to the point where he assaulted the guy.”
The Columbia Police Department released a statement after the incident on Monday morning and said they were investigating the situation, including why the officer was alone at the time.
Watch the full press conference below: