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York police probe arrest after video hits Facebook

Written by Ted Czech and Teresa Boeckel/The York Daily Record | Jul 4, 2017 8:01 AM
Melissa Dyann Penn.jpg

Melissa Dyann Penn (Submitted)

York City Police say they arrested Melissa Dyann Penn on Monday at a York bar.

(York) -- York City Police say they are looking into the Monday arrest of a woman after a video of the incident circulated on Facebook.

On Monday morning, numerous York residents commented and shared the 10-second video, which appears to show a York City Police officer punching a woman and attempting to arrest her. Many comments criticized the officer, York City Police or both. 

Later that day, York City Police released a statement, saying they arrested the woman, Melissa Dyann Penn, "after her involvement in a fight at Pandora's Box 466 E. Market St."

The affidavit states that bouncers had removed Penn from the nightclub, but she kept trying to get back in. Her father warned her the police were there and attempted to carry her away, but she broke free and made another attempt.

As an officer attempted to arrest her, police said, she tried to get away, kicked him in the torso and wrapped her arms around his neck. The officer had tried several maneuvers before striking her four times in the face "in an attempt to daze and disorient her and regain tactical advantage over her," the affidavit states. 

The video on Facebook does not show what happened before the officer punched the woman.

Reached by text, York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said the incident was being investigated.

"We are aware of the video and are conducting an investigation regarding what took place," he said.

The release also addresses the short duration of the Facebook video clip.

"This video is a very short few seconds of what occurred and we have video from multiple sources we are looking at," the release states. "We would ask that people not draw conclusions regarding a small portion of the incident and we hope to release more video in the future."

In the release, city police affirm the department's dedication to professionalism, "but if physical force is used against our officers they will respond according to our policies and the laws of this Commonwealth."

It closes with a plea for anyone who may have information about the incident or has further video to contact the York City Police Department Internal Affairs Division.

The affidavit states that Penn appeared to be confrontational and aggressive with others around her before police attempted to arrest her. Multiple people had tried to escort her from the property, and police had warned her that she would need to leave immediately.

The officer took Penn's left wrist and attempted to gain control over her in order to make an arrest. She began to pull away. The officer tried to take her down, but she was able to get to her feet, the affidavit states.

The officer tried again and was able to get her on the ground. However, she rolled onto her back and kicked the officer in the torso, the affidavit states.

The officer then pushed Penn's leg to the side in an attempt to regain control of her wrist and roll her onto her stomach. She wrapped her arms around the officer's neck, the affidavit states. That's when the officer struck her in the face, and placed her in custody, the affidavit states.

Police charged Penn with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and defiant trespass. She was released Monday on $5,000 bail. 

Penn could not be reached for comment.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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