Videos circulate showing excessive force against Alabama students



Maggie Keane

The Tuscaloosa Police Department is conducting an investigation in response to a series of startling videos posted on Sunday November 8th. The videos show officers using a Taser and a baton on a University of Alabama student. Three officers are on paid administrative leave.

The incident began with a noise complaint at an off-campus apartment hours after the University of Alabama football team’s victory over Louisiana State University. In the videos the students refuse to let the officer into the apartment. The officer then pulls one of the students from the apartment and forces him to the ground as several other officers arrive.

Tuscaloosa and campus police arrested three students Brandon James Williford, 21, Matthew Gimlin Macia, 22, and Caroline Elizabeth Giddis, 22. Williford was charged with obstructing governmental affairs, resisting arrest, and harassment. Macia was charged with obstructing governmental affairs and resisting arrest. Giddis was charged with obstructing governmental affairs and harassment. 

The videos show the officer, with eight years of experience, repeatedly trying to pull Williford out of the apartment as the students shout at him about warrants and legal representation. The officer tells the students that he doesn’t need a warrant and that Williford is being arrested for harassment.

“You’re under arrest for harassment for touching my arm,” said the officer.

The students attempt to pull their friend away from the officer. The officer then shoves another student out of the way and forces his way into the apartment. Other officers arrive in response to a call for emergency assistance. They drag Williford and another student from the apartment. An officer with twelve years of experience then uses a taser on Williford and an officer with two years of experience beats him with a baton. The videos were taken on cell phones at 3 am Sunday morning. By Sunday night, the videos had been shared thousands of times over social media and the Tuscaloosa Police Department had tweeted that an internal investigation was underway.

Three university officers were present during the arrests. The University is investigating the officers’ actions. In an email to students, Vice President for Student Affairs David Grady denounced the confrontation. “I can assure you the university is working with the city of Tuscaloosa to ensure this type of occurrence does not happen again,” Grady said. 

Maclain Edwards, a student at the University of Alabama, knew one of the students involved in the confrontation. “It was hard to see my peers treated in such a violent way over something as common as a noise complaint. I think the situation could have been handled better by both the police and the students,” Edwards said.

This incident happened in the midst of the University’s debate over the arming of public safety. Many students have expressed concerns that bringing guns onto campus will only lead to more violence.

However, Edwards says that she feels safe around University of Alabama officers. “I believe that the majority of the police want to protect us and serve our community. There are always a couple of rotten eggs, but overall the police have good intentions,” said Edwards.