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YouTube Video Sparks Investigation in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. --

A YouTube video showing an Louisville Metro police officer hitting a suspect with a flashlight has sparked an internal investigation.

WLKY News spoke exclusively with the man who shot the video and posted it online.

Officer James Conley has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal Louisville Metro Police Department investigation. That investigation began after an officer was captured on video using a flashlight to hit a suspect in the head during an arrest on public intoxication charges around 4 a.m. on Sept. 11 at Fourth Street Live.

"That right there was totally uncalled for. He didn't have to do all that," said the eyewitness who shot the video, who wished to remain anonymous.

Police and that eyewitness said the man who was hit, Zackery Hoagland, 22, started acting aggressively toward another man.

According to a police report, "(Hoagland) raised his arms in front of his body with closed fists, challenging the individual to a physical fight."

"The dude (Hoagland) was like, 'I want to fight you. I want to fight you,'" the eyewitness said.

The eyewitness pulled out his phone just as three officers approached Hoagland. That's when the video begins.

"(An officer) walked up to (Hoagland), choked him and put him against the wall -- told him, 'You need to calm down,'" the eyewitness said.

The police report stated, "Officers approached (Hoagland) to separate him from the situation, at which point (Hoagland) grabbed arresting officer's uniform shirt at the throat and raised a closed fist, threatening to strike the officer."

"Then, by that time, the other guy (Conley) had pulled out his flashlight. Now I'm thinking, 'He's not about to hit him with the flashlight, for real,' but he really, seriously hit him with that flashlight," the eyewitness said. "He hit him so hard, the flashlight came on."

After that, the video shows officers wrestling Hoagland to the ground, and onlookers said they could see Hoagland bleeding from the head.

"His whole left ear is really, really bleeding. He's got a lot of blood on the ground," the eyewitness said.

The injury to his head was still visible when Hoagland was booked into jail.

Officers said Hoagland was heavily intoxicated. He was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, menacing and resisting arrest.

But it's the actions of the officer who arrested him that are now the focus of an internal investigation, and Conley's fate is uncertain.

"I guess that's up to the police department to determine themselves, to handle that situation, but I guess if I had to say something, maybe they should get rid of him," the eyewitness said.

One of Hoagland's family members told WLKY News that Hoagland is doing well, but may have to undergo reconstructive surgery. Hoagland's attorney declined to comment.

Police said Conley was on duty at the time of the incident and has been with LMPD for nearly two years.

Copyright 2011 by WLKY.com. ©2011 Hearst Properties Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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