A cop in Matthews, North Carolina, choked a handcuffed man and the city kept the video secret for 3 years

Sgt. Joshua Burnett, a cop in Matthews, North Carolina, choked Aaron Butler, a handcuffed detainee, and had to be pulled off by another officer. The incident was filmed but Matthews city administrators kept the video a secret, spending significant sums of money to block its release in court. The video was finally leaked to WBTV, a local news affiliate. Joshua Burnett faced no displicine for what Matthews' town manager Becky Hawke now admits took place, but was quietly fired after WBTV started asking questions that made clear they had seen the footage.

Matthews refused to release full versions of body camera video from the four officers on scene, despite the fact that the town successfully petitioned a judge for the release of the video in October 2022.After WBTV began asking about this incident, the Town of Matthews hired a private attorney—Daniel Peterson with the law firm Parker Poe—to ask a judge to amend the order releasing the video to include a clause that would allow the town to refuse to publicly release the video.The town also hired Peterson to defend a public records lawsuit brought by WBTV seeking the video that is in the town's possession and other records related to the incident.Burnett was fired in December 2022, according to a termination letter released by the Town of Matthews in response to a request for personnel records from WBTV.

Hawke is still refusing to answer questions, WBTV reports. In addition to not releasing the video, the town of Matthews is refusing to release records of how much it's spent on the various legal costs related to not releasing the video, which for some reason includes private investigators.

Everyone hates lawyers, but sometimes you just have to find the nastiest ones you can and let them eat.