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MPD releases officer’s body-cam footage after High Street incident

Morgantown Police have released officer body-cam footage relating to a Feb. 2 incident on High Street, after an alleged domestic dispute.

The police footage was released in response to a video circulating on social media showing an MPD officer seemingly body-slam a man, later identified as Massinissa Belkadi, 20, face-first into the sidewalk. 

The online video, which was only around 10 seconds in length, did not show any events leading up to the incident, leaving many who saw the video wondering why so much force was used in the arrest, and whether it was a bit too much.

On Monday, an MPD press release stated the incident was reviewed by department officials who found the officer “used the appropriate amount of physical force to gain control of the suspect.”

A few hours after the press release, a clip from the officer’s body-cam footage aligning with the online video was released by the department.

“We just wanted to be completely transparent in this process and provide all the facts and context of the situation,” Morgantown Communications Director Drew Bailey told The Dominion Post Tuesday.  “Building and maintaining trust is vital to our police department and city leadership.” 

Neither video shows what happened in the time before Belkadi was taken down by the officer; however, MPD said the officers were responding to an alleged domestic incident involving Belkadi at a nearby eatery, when he became uncooperative and resisted arrest.

According to MPD’s release, Belkadi sustained abrasions to his cheekbone and forehead as a result of the arrest and was evaluated and treated on scene by Mon EMS.

“We follow a specific process that focuses on accountability and safety,” Bailey said.  “After going through that process, it was confirmed that the appropriate action was taken. We strive to provide outstanding services with integrity, respect, and fairness while providing a safe environment.”

Belkadi was charged with obstructing an officer, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication.  Police are still investigating the domestic-violence incident that initially brought them to the scene.

While the department determined the unidentified officer acted appropriately, Bailey acknowledged, “That doesn’t mean the response was perfect. We will continue to review the situation, find ways to improve our responses and provide better training to our teams for future cases,” he said.

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