BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A cell phone video shows 22-year-old John Willet on the ground being arrested by Buffalo Police a week ago Saturday. As Willet describes in an interview with News 4 Investigates: “Hit, hit, hit, hit from that officer over here.”
Now News 4 is talking to the man who captured these images.
“He knocked him down. I was like, I know there’s going to be more than this. So, that’s when I started recording it.”
In the video, you can see an officer slapping, then kicking, then once again slapping Willet while he’s on the ground handcuffed.
RELATED | See a full interview with John Willet here
Sources tell News 4 Investigates that police believe the officer seen in the video striking Willet is Officer John Cirulli.
In a new development, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda late Tuesday suspended one police officer without pay. Sources say that officer is John Cirulli. Five others remain on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
A spokesman for the police union, Buffalo Police Benevolent Association declined comment until after completion of ongoing investigations by Buffalo Police Internal Affairs, the Erie County district attorney and the United States attorney.
Fearing the possibility of a reprisal, the man behind this video recording asked that his identity be protected. He tells News 4 Investigates that he saw Willet surrendering to police in the area of Philadelphia and Ontario Streets.
“The cop just came and pushed him. He didn’t say a word. He just knocked him down,” the man says.
That’s when he began recording video. At one point he says one of the officers noticed him taking pictures.
“One cop saw me. He taps his friend on the shoulder and he pointed at me. So, I knew they were going to come to me.”
He says he quickly switched phones with a friend knowing police were going to ask about the video.