ST. LOUIS (KMOV/AP) -- The St. Louis Police Department is investigating after a YouTube video showed an officer striking a man with a baton multiple times.
The video was taken in the early morning hours of New Year's Day at a south St. Louis gas station.
It shows an unidentified police officer pulling a man from a car. The officer then hits the suspect seven times with his baton and pepper sprays him.
News 4 contacted the police department. This is the statement sent to News 4:
“We were first made aware of the video this morning and while all of the circumstances of the incident are not known, what is seen on the video is extremely disturbing to us. Force is to be used only when absolutely necessary and this department takes the use of force very seriously. No one has a filed a complaint regarding this incident, however the department is launching an Internal Affairs investigation immediately and we would urge those involved in the incident to please come forward and relay their eyewitness accounts to the Internal Affairs investigators. We are also making efforts to identify the officer involved who, once identified, will immediately be assigned to administrative duty pending the results of the investigation.”
The convenience store owner, Joel Platke, says the officer was off-duty working security at the store when the young man came in and caused a disturbance. He says what the video doesn't show is the young man grabbing at the officer's ankles. Platke says he believes the officer did nothing wrong.
Police say they believe they have identified the officer in this case. However, his identity has not been released. They say the officer will be put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
YouTube removed the video Tuesday afternoon.