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TV Cameras Spark Questions In Georgia

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WAGA
A Lawrenceville, Ga. man is under arrest following a high-speed chase and police officers are under scrutiny for the way in which they subdued the suspect.

The incident was videotaped and broadcast live by Atlanta television stations.

Police attempted to stop a man they said appeared to be driving under the influence of alcohol. Authorities say the suspect refused to stop.

TV station helicopters videotaped the ensuing chase that wound through three Georgia counties.

The 20-minute-long chase began in Lawrenceville Wednesday afternoon and finally ended 25 miles later, in Atlanta, when the suspect's pickup truck was boxed in by police vehicles, hit a car, overheated and stalled. He was arrested, but not before being kicked and punched, according to the Associated Press.

According to the Associated Press, videotape of the arrest shows the officers with "guns drawn," pulling the suspect from his truck, then punching and kicking him several times while he was on the ground.

The suspect is obscured on the tapes by an officer standing over him, according to the Associated Press, which says the camera angle makes it difficult to see whether the suspect did anything to provoke the officers' blows.

Police say the suspect, identified as 34-year-old Marshall Dwight Studdard, was not injured and did not require medical attention.

The two people in the car hit by the pickup truck were admitted to a nearby hospital.

Now, several local residents are questioning the amount of force used to subdue the suspect, and the Lawrenceville police department says the entire incident is under investigation.

"We're getting a lot of phone calls about that," says Lawrenceville police Lieutenant Jeff Smith, who adds that the department will review the videotape "to make sure that the force that was used was necessary and within policy."

Smith says Studdard was charged with driving under the influence, attempting to flee and elude police, reckless driving and having an open container of alcohol.

Police Chief Randy Johnson says the officers told him that Studdard resisted arrest. "I'm not jumping on either side," says Johnson. "Did they use too much force? I don't know."

Johnson adds that officers are allowed to use force if it is needed and cameras don't always show every angle. In some situations, Johnson says, force sometimes "does look worse than it is."

Johnson says the officers involved in the incident will remain on duty while the videotapes are reviewed to determine if inappropriate force was used on the suspect.