WARSAW — A police officer’s use of force is under investigation after a video posted to social media showed the officer grabbing a 22-year-old man in prom attire by the throat and pinning him to the ground in the Waffle House parking lot.
A video posted to Facebook on May 8, and widely circulated on various social media platforms and national news sites, shows the officer pinning the man, identified as Anthony Wall, against a window, then turning him around and gripping his neck. The officer then slams him to the pavement with his left hand on Wall’s head as other young people stand around them, recording the scene.
Warsaw Police Chief Eric Southerland told The News & Observer that his department and the district attorney’s office were investigating, and more information will be released. Southerland did not immediately return a message from The Independent for comment, however District Attorney Ernie Lee confirmed the matter was under investigation.
The district attorney, who serves Duplin, Sampson, Jones and Onslow counties, said he was made aware Wednesday afternoon, May 9, of the May 4 incident at the Waffle House, located on N.C. 24 near Interstate 40, not far from the Sampson-Duplin line.
“I was contacted by the Chief of Police of the Warsaw Police Department at 3:44 p.m. on May 9,” Lee told The Independent on Thursday afternoon. “On May 9, I then requested the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation by telephone to investigate this matter. On May 10, I made my request in writing to investigate this incident. This matter is being investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what might have prompted the officer’s use of force.
According to reports, Wall had just taken his younger sister to prom. While at Waffle House, Wall reportedly got into an argument with the restaurant’s servers, and an employee hit the panic alarm. Wall was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to reports.
The officer, who has been identified by multiple media outlets as Frank Moss, is shown grabbing Wall by the throat before wrestling him to the pavement in an attempt to subdue him. As Wall is on the ground, his head wedged against the curb, Moss has one hand on Wall’s right wrist and the other on his face, instructing him several times to put his hands behind his back. Wall repeatedly says “get your hands off of me.”
During the incident, one woman filming remarks that the officer “isn’t supposed to be doing that” and she’s glad she is filming it.
Video of the incident was picked up by national news outlets, including the New York Post, as well as civil rights activist and author Shaun King, who uses social media tohighlight incidents of perceived police brutality and racism. He had several posts on Twitter Thursday about the Waffle House incident in Warsaw, retweeted by thousands of people, identifying Moss and posting a photo of him with the rest of the department’s officers, noting the “sheer size” of him.
King also noted that, as he was pulling content off the Warsaw Police Department’s Facebook page, the page was deleted. A search Thursday confirmed as much.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.