UTICA, N.Y. -- Utica's police chief is responding to a controversial incident involving one of his officers this past weekend.
A man crossed the yellow tape at an active fire scene, and force was used to get him back behind the tape. The incident was caught on camera by WKTV.
In it, you can see a member of the fire department yelling for the man to get back behind the tape. Soon after, a Utica police officer comes over and pushes the man to the ground. The man said he crossed the yellow tape at the scene because he saw that his business had collapsed, and knew his dog was inside. He thought the officer's actions were excessive.
Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said situations like this happen often, and the officer didn't know the man was the property owner. Regardless, he said the public should not be entering a taped-off scene for a number of reasons, including the fact that fires also have the potential to be crime scenes.
He said the video is still under investigation, but that the officer appeared to have been acting within policy. He also said sometimes force needs to be used.
Williams believes this situation has been dramatized, and people should consider that there's more to the story, instead of coming to a conclusion after seeing a short video clip.
"Use of force, no matter how it's used, is never gonna look pretty, regardless whether it's justified or not," Williams said. "But, I think what the public has to understand is that that officer has several duties at a scene."
The chief added that officers are disciplined when they act out of line, but in his opinion, this was not one of those cases.