A criminal investigation has been launched into the “disturbing” actions of a Sacramento police officer who was captured on video punching a man accused of jaywalking, authorities said.
The officer, whose name hasn’t been released, was placed on leave as authorities opened an administrative investigation into his actions.
On Tuesday, the Police Department released dash-cam video footage from the officer’s patrol cruiser showing the confrontation. (A witness’ cellphone video of the incident sparked public outrage when it was circulated on social media recently.)
“The actions of the involved Sacramento police officer are disturbing and do not appear to be reasonable based upon the circumstances,” the Police Department said in a statement. “The Sacramento Police Department holds itself to the highest professional standard and the actions that were observed are not indicative of the dedicated women and men who work for the Department.”
Police said the officer tried to stop the man just after 5 p.m. Monday as he crossed a street illegally near the intersection of Cypress Street and Grand Avenue in North Sacramento. The man, who later identified himself to reporters as Nandi Cain Jr., put his hands up and walked away.
As he walked off, the officer and Cain began arguing in the street, police said. Cain questioned the officer’s reasons for stopping him.
In the dash-cam video, the officer tells Cain, “You are jaywalking back here.”
Cain responds by telling the officer he looked both ways.
“Stop right now before I take you to the ground,” the officer says. “If you do not stop right now, I will take you to the ground.”
Cain, 24, responds with, “You pulled me over for nothing.”
The officer then orders Cain to get down on the ground.
“I don’t have nothing,” Cain says, and then removes his jacket. “I don’t have nothing.”
As the officer continues to tell Cain to get on the ground, Cain says, “If you’re a real man, you can take your gun away and you can fight me like a real man.”
At that point, the video shows the officer charging toward Cain.
“I am in a fight,” the officer yells. “Give me your ... hand. I’ll break your ... arm.”
The video shows the officer on top of Cain, punching him at least a dozen times as another squad car pulls up to the scene and a second officer jumps out to help.
“Why could you just not comply?” the first officer says as he breathes heavily. “You were … jaywalking.
The exchange continues, punctuated with expletives, but much of it is inaudible as yet another cruiser pulls up with its siren on and more officers run to the fight.
“You’re going to hear from my lawyer,” Cain yells.
Cain tells the officer that he doesn’t trust him because police officers have fatally shot many other people. “What’s your probable cause for pulling me over?” he asks the officer.
“You look pretty alive to me, man,” one officer says.
“I am alive,” Cain says. “I’m better than alive. My soul is alive. You can’t kill my pride. You can’t kill my soul or nothing. You don’t know who you are [dealing] with.”
As the officers handcuff Cain and lead him to the first officer’s cruiser, the man says he had just gotten off from work and was having a rough week. He said his girlfriend had kicked him out of their home.
“I am tired,” Cain said. “Leave me alone. Are you going to buy me more housing? Are you going to get me a better job? No, you are not.”
The witness’ cellphone video of the confrontation shows Cain facing the officer and quickly slipping off his jacket.
Naomi Montaie, who recorded the interaction as it unfolded in front of her, screams at Cain, “Nephew, just listen.”
Seconds later, the officer approaches Cain, grabs his neck and takes him down to the ground. The video shows the officer as he sits on Cain and hits him in the face.
Montaie yells, “Why you beating him like that?”
As Cain lies on his side, the officer appears to be twisting and pulling one of his arms.
Moments later, the second officer arrives and grabs Cain’s other arm as they place handcuffs on him.
Meanwhile, Montaie, who is Cain’s neighbor, continues to record the arrest, saying, “Oh, Jesus, I’ve seen this, Lord.”
“Oh my God, why did you take him down like that?” she asks.
Cain later told KTXL-TV that the officer demanded he take his hands out of his pocket and show him a weapon. He said the officer had his hand on his gun.
“So I took off my jacket to let him know, ‘I don’t have anything,’” he told the news station.
Cain said he was nervous because the officer had his hand on his weapon. When the officer took him down to the ground, Cain said, he did not resist.
“I am not going to give this man any reason to kill me, basically to gun me down,” he told the station.
After Cain was detained, a police supervisor reviewed the officer’s dash-cam video and launched an investigation, according to the Police Department.
“The preliminary investigation led the supervisor to believe that there were significant policy concerns and immediately notified his chain of command,” police said.
Police arrested Cain on suspicion of resisting arrest as well as for a misdemeanor warrant from Fresno County, police said.
While sitting in the back of the police cruiser, Cain is heard on the police video saying, “You can take the gun and you can shoot me in my head right now because I am tired of living.”
The video shows Cain growing agitated and kicking the police cruiser.
An officer then appears to enter the cruiser and grab Cain from behind.
“All right, all right, stop. I can’t breathe,” he says.
“You need to take a deep breath, dude,” the officer says. “Change your attitude and calm down. You understand? We are going to let you go in a sec. We are going to give you a minute to calm down. Right now, you are threatening our safety.”
Cain questions how he could threaten the officers’ safety since he was in handcuffs.
“I am angry,” he says. “You guys are harassing me. You provoked me.”
Later, police determined “there were insufficient grounds for making a criminal complaint against the pedestrian,” police said.
Police released Cain from custody and dropped any pending charges against him. However, he must still appear in court for the Fresno County warrant, police said.
Once the criminal investigation into the officer’s actions is completed, detectives will submit all reports and evidence to the Sacramento County district attorney, who will decide if charges will be filed.
On Wednesday, Sgt. Bryce Heinlein said that although police released Cain from custody, they also planned to investigate his actions and present any evidence to prosecutors.
Meanwhile, the Police Department plans to review its training procedures. The officer involved in the altercation has worked with the department for two years, police said.
“The videos of this incident portray actions and behavior that we would consider unacceptable conduct by a Sacramento police officer,” the department said.
Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson said the videos show a man who was just tired of being hassled by the police.
“It’s just sort of set up to go wrong,” she said.
Officers are often provoked and react when a subject refuses to comply with their commands, Levenson said.
In this case, she said, she wonders why the officer didn’t use other tactics.
“It didn’t have to happen,” she said. “Why did the officer have to stop this guy for jaywalking and why did the officer feel this guy posed a threat to himself and to the public?”
The Police Department will have to approach the investigation from several different angles, including the public’s perception of the arrest and the officer’s reason for making the arrest, Levenson said.
She said the public will probably see an officer pounding on a man for jaywalking, while the officer could argue that he was in a one-on-one conflict without backup and had to protect himself.
“You get a sense from the video that people in that community are tired of being hassled by the police,” she said. “That is the underlying problem.”
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1:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the police video and comments from Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson.
10:40 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the police dam-cam video.
This article was originally published at 9:13 a.m.