Spring break witness cellphone video captures a fight breaking out on the packed St. Pete Beach in Pinellas County, Florida. A single officer responds, and all but two of the troublemakers comply.
Josh McMahan, 25, is the first to resist the officer in an attempt to continue the fight. He refuses to obey the officer’s commands and threateningly gets in the officer’s face in a physical act of defiance. The officer is situationally aware that he is surrounded by hundreds of extremely intoxicated, unpredictable young adults and knows he has to diffuse the situation quickly.
The officer, Sergeant Bryan Bingham, immediately takes McMahan to the ground to cuff him. While the suspect appears to at least momentarily comply now that he’s on the ground, a second drunk individual steps into the situation.
McMahan’s buddy, 24-year-old Justin Lewis, tries to interfere with the arrest by posting up on Sergeant Bingham in a threatening manner. Another beach goer attempts to help the officer by confronting Lewis, but Lewis lashes out at the man and attempts to take him to the ground.
After regaining his feet, the extremely intoxicated-looking Lewis returns to Bingham and again intervenes in the arrest. At this point, Sergeant Bingham takes Lewis to the ground, but Lewis continues to arrest, forcing the officer to apply a submission hold. Lewis taps the officer as if he is ready to comply, but as soon as the officer loosens his grip, the man renews his resistance. Eventually, good samaritans step in and assist the officer in subduing Lewis.
The video of the incident sparked internet outrage, and many said the officer’s actions were unnecessarily forceful. However, the officer, surrounded by hundreds of extremely intoxicated people had no choice but to use the necessary force to neutralize the situation in a hurry. These men would not comply.
After the men were arrested, it was discovered that both had lengthy criminal records including multiple burglary and violent assault and battery convictions. Both had also served time in a penitentiary in recent years. These were thugs looking for trouble when everyone else was trying to have a good time on spring break.