Former Joplin police officer Homer Knisley, who resigned last week following an investigation into an alleged beating of prisoner David Neal at the city jail that was caught on tape:
On Wednesday, Knisley said Neal's head never hit the floor because of his slap, and the reason why Knisley hit Neal in the first place was because Neal was spitting blood.
Knisley says he was protecting other workers from Neal's spit.
"I may not be worth much to them as a police officer, but I am a person," Knisley said. "I have a wife and son who depend on me.
And I absolutely refuse - I absolutely refuse - to surrender my right to protect myself because I am a police officer.
I took an oath as a police officer to protect people and that's what happened. Nothing more."
The city of Joplin recently paid $5,000 to a 25-year-old black man who was struck in the face by a white police officer while he was handcuffed, according to a newspaper report.
The incident took place at the city jail on April 20 after David G. Neal was arrested on suspicion that he rammed a police car with his own car in downtown Joplin and resisting arrest.
The officer involved, Homer Knisley, 31, left the Joplin Police Department on Wednesday. His departure and the discipline of two other officers involved were disclosed Thursday in the wake of investigations by the department’s internal affairs division and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Police Chief Lane Roberts told the Joplin Globe on Friday that Knisley and other officers were reacting to provocation by Neal.
“But the bottom line is even if everything (Knisley) says is true, you don’t punch a guy in handcuffs,” Roberts said. “There’s no way to justify it.”