FAIRFAX, Va. - A video of a Fairfax County police officer using a stun gun on a man sparked some outrage after it was posted on social media. Witnesses said it was excessive force because it appeared he was complying with the officer's commands.
However, the police department is standing behind its officer and Fairfax County Police Chief Colonel Edwin Roessler said an internal affairs investigation revealed the officer’s use of force last Thursday was appropriate because the suspect had a knife.
The suspect, 35-year-old Elton Cansler of Alexandria, was charged with larceny and assaulting an officer.
“As the officer got out of his police cruiser to engage in conversation with Mr. Cansler, he noticed that the man kept on putting his hands into his front pockets,” said Roessler.
The officer was attempting to question Cansler about the theft of a pair of sunglasses from a nearby SunTrust Bank in the Rose Hill area of Franconia in Fairfax County.
Police said Cansler admitted to taking the sunglasses and that is when the officer saw a knife in his pocket. The officer attempted to arrest Cansler who allegedly resisted.
“At one particular point in time, Mr. Cansler then pushed off the police cruiser and pushed into the officer, assaulting the officer," Chief Roessler said.
But none of that was caught on the video. A second video clip of the arrest released by Fairfax County police does show Cansler moving his hands toward his pockets after he was Tased.
We spoke to Cansler's brother, Marco Crosby, on the phone.
“Obviously I asked him, ‘Did you all tussle? Anything?’ He said, 'No, it never got to that,'” said Crosby. “I do not believe that it happened at all. I don't.”
The man who recorded the video and did not want to be identified said he did not see Cansler resist.
“He told him to turn around, he turned around, he complied, and boom, he popped out his Taser and he shot at him,” said the witness.
“I'm backing my officer on this and it's been investigated,” said Chief Roessler.
Cansler's brother said he does not believe the use of force was appropriate despite the information released by police.
“Then he had him turned around leaning forward on the car with both hands on the car,” said Crosby. “At that moment, regardless of what may or may not have happened prior to that, that's a surrender, so the reasoning for Tasing him in his back, that's just not justified.”
Cansler's criminal record dates back to 2002 and includes convictions for resisting arrest, carrying a concealed weapon and assault.