Middletown man’s arrest seen on TikTok more than 3 million times

Suspect says he plans to file lawsuit, faces three charges.

MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown man said he “experienced police brutality” after he allegedly threatened to kill worshippers inside a Middletown church, refused to leave the church, then was arrested while walking home.

Rashawn N. Francis, 22, shared a 3-minute video of the March 26 incident on TikTok. The video has been viewed 3.1 million times.

Middletown Police Chief David Birk told the Journal-News the video doesn’t show “the whole story.”

Francis was charged with aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor, and resisting arrest and obstructing official business, both second-degree misdemeanors, after he allegedly threatened to kill people inside Berachah Church.

He then posted three videos on TikTok. He said he was struck twice with a taser, “forcibly arrested,” and “pretty much beaten” by police.

In another TikTok video, he asked viewers to donate money so he could hire an attorney, saying he planned to take legal action against the Middletown police department.

“I know I have a lawsuit,” Francis said in the video. “I can laugh about the situation.”

Francis appeared Monday in Middletown Municipal Court and Chris Atkins was appointed his attorney. He will have a pre-trial hearing at 9 a.m. April 17, according to court records.

Birk said Francis allegedly walked into Berachah Church, 1900 Johns Road, on March 26 and made “very threatening” acts of violence.

A short time later, Middletown police officer Vanessa Ely saw a man matching the description of the suspect walking near Bonita Drive and Breiel Boulevard, Birk said. Francis was wearing a comb in his hair, the same as the person who made the alleged threats, Birk said.

In the video, Ely is shown slowly following Francis in her cruiser.

“What’s up world?” Francis said on TikTok. “What’s up world? I’m being harassed.”

The officer instructed Francis to stop walking away, but he continued through an apartment complex. He filmed the incident on his cellphone. The TikTok video has been viewed 3.1 million times.

Ely jogged after Francis as he continued filming and he encouraged another person in the area to film the incident.

“Record this,” he said. “Please record this.”

Ely caught up to Francis and put her hands on his back, the video showed.

“Get off me,” he told the officer. “Get off me.”

“Stop,” the officer said. “Put your hands behind your back.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “Get off of me. Get off of me.”

“This is not how this works,” the officer said.

Several seconds later, the sound of police sirens can be heard on the video. Francis said seven officers responded to the call.

Birk said Ely followed department policy by waiting until additional officers arrived for her safety.

The filming stopped when Francis was arrested.

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