Police pepper-spray 84-year-old black woman in her home

Forced entry into house 'could have been a home invasion'

Jacob Furedi
Monday 29 August 2016 10:54 BST
Ms Smith intends to initiate legal proceedings
Ms Smith intends to initiate legal proceedings (YouTube)

Police have pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old black woman in her home.

Geneva Smith, from Muskogee, Oklahoma, received approximately one second’s worth of pepper spray to the face after police entered her house to arrest her son.

Two Muskogee police officers followed Arthur Paul Blackman to his mother’s home after he ran a stop sign.

It later emerged the car was not registered to Mr Blackmon.

On arriving, the officers asked Mr Blackmon to come outside. The 56-year-old man refused, allegedly claiming he did not realise they were police.

Once five more officers arrived, the police forced entry. Seeing Mr Blackmon standing in the living room, one officer shot him with an electrical stun gun.

Ms Smith, who was confused by the noise being made in the early hours of the morning, entered the room to find out what was happening.

After failing to turn around when asked to by an officer, she was pepper-sprayed in the face.

Ms Smith was then handcuffed and taken to jail with her son. In jail, she had a panic attack and was taken to hospital.

Scott Wood, a lawyer for Muskogee Police Force, said the use of pepper spray was understandable “given the totality of the circumstances.”

He did, however, warn the forced entry of Ms Smith’s home “could have been a home invasion.”

Rex Eskridge, Muskogee’s chief of police, said: “There is nothing more serious than to breach a home without a proper search warrant.

“We want to make sure that we were in compliance with not just policy, but the law.

“There's a lot of misinformation out there. There is a lot of prejudgment out there and a lot of concern."

BlackMatters, which aims “to tell the bold truth about racism”, claimed the treatment of Ms Smith was symptomatic of the “continuous unprofessionalism of cops”.

Ms Smith has demanded an apology from Muskogee Police Department and also intends to launch legal proceedings.

Muskogee Police are carrying out an internal investigation into whether officers entered the home without a search warrant.

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