Two Allentown officers who detained a man outside a hospital emergency room -- including one officer who had his knee on the man's head -- will not face criminal charges, the Lehigh County District Attorney said Friday.
District Attorney Jim Martin said he had investigated the case, including reviewing the short video seen by thousands on social media as well as a longer video from a surveillance camera across the street. "I have concluded that there is absolutely no evidence to support filing criminal charges against either of the Allentown police officers involved in this incident," Martin said in a statement.
The detention led to community protests in Allentown and demands that the officers in the video be named, disciplined and charged.
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In both videos, one officer kneels on the head of the man, identified as Edward Borrero, Jr., 37, of Allentown.
Before that, Borrero was seen on the longer video in distress, vomiting in the street and staggering just outside the ER. Martin's report says Borrero said he had used heroin and cocaine before the incident; a syringe was found in Borrero's pocket.
The detention was reminiscent of the deadly arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis. However, Martin said, the Allentown officer's knee is on Borrero's head, not his neck. And the kneeling is brief: about eight seconds, Martin said.
Martin says the restraint was "reasonable" and required because Borrero was in need of medical care and was not complying with the officers, who took him into the hospital after he was detained.
Borrero was treated at the hospital after the incident. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, public drunkenness and one misdemeanor, disorderly conduct.
Martin said he plans to reduce the disorderly conduct charge to a summary offense.
Both Allentown's mayor, Ray O'Connell, and Police Chief Glenn Granitz released statements supporting the DA's decision. Granitz reiterated that police did not have a knee on the man's neck and did not use a chokehold. He said the department's internal investigation had found no basis for disciplining the officers.