FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Almost two years after Fairfax County Police arrested one of their own, a high-profile case of alleged police brutality is finally in front of a jury.
Tyler Timberlake, a white officer, is accused of assaulting an unarmed and clearly disoriented Black man without provocation.
Timberlake's lawyers argue it was a case of mistaken identity.
The bodycam video, released at the height of 2020's social justice protests, shows Timberlake, an eight-year veteran of the department, tasing and jamming his knee into the back of La Monta Gladney just moments after the officer arrived at the scene in the Mount Vernon community.
"I can't breathe," Gladney screams repeatedly as police struggle to handcuff him.
Police arrested Timberlake the next day and charged him three misdemeanor counts of assault and battery on Gladney.
In opening statements late Monday afternoon, Timberlake’s lawyer insisted tasing and punching or shoving Gladney was well within department guidelines. He says it was the best and least lethal choice he had. And that it still took four to five people to subdue Gladney.
His lawyer says Timberlake will testify in his own defense.
Outside the courthouse, Monday, a small group of protesters demanded the county fire not just Officer Timberlake, but the police chief too, although the incident took place before Chief Kevin Davis was hired.
Inside, some of Timberlake's colleagues crowded into the courtroom.
For almost three minutes on June 5, 2020, a rookie officer and a medic tried to convince Gladney to climb into the back of an ambulance as he paced the middle of the street and babbled incoherently.
A neighbor had called 911 and said there was a man outside screaming that he needed oxygen.
Prosecutors say ten seconds after Timberlake got there, he called Gladney by the wrong name and then almost immediately fired his stun gun.
"Get on the ground Anthony!" you hear Timberlake say on the video. Then there's a soft bang as he fires the stun gun and then the repeated clicking of electricity surging into Gladney's body as he falls to the ground.
The officer's lawyers insist Timberlake thought Gladney was a man named Anthony who had an outstanding warrant, had been violent with police and was known to carry weapons.
Prosecutors argued Timberlake is guilty of misdemeanor assault three times over. When he tased Gladney, when he punched him and when he tased him a second time.
The trial is slated to run for about a week.