UPDATE: Lakeland police say their preliminary review of an incident of officers restraining and kicking a homeless man showed the officers “were justified in their response and acted within our Use Of Force policy.”

Photos and video of the officers kicking the man who resisted arrest under an interstate overpass generated a huge response on Facebook.

The Lakeland Police Department released its own description late last night and said the two officers’ use of force is under administrative review. A noon update today said the administrative review continues but that preliminary findings show the use fo force was justified.

Today’s update said: “Both officers used various physical tactics, including strikes to the upper torso, in an attempt to gain control of John Abbott and take him into custody. Abbott was not kicked in the head. As Officer West gave an audible warning that he was deploying his Tazer, Officer Anthony stepped back to ensure he would be clear of the Tazer effects. When the Tazer failed to stop Abbott, Abbott grabbed the device from Officer West. Officer Anthony then kicked Abbott in the upper torso in an effort to make Abbott to release the weapon.”

“When you try to take somebody into custody and they react violently, you need to take appropriate action,” Chief Larry Giddens told The Ledger today.

A police spokesman told The Ledger last night that what looked to some like a running kick to the head was really a kick to the suspect’s arm.

Debate on Facebook continues today on posts by LPD, The Ledger and others.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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