Pittsburg, CA – The Pittsburg Police Department has released bodycam footage that showed the full extent of officers’ encounter with a resistant suspect, after a witness posted a shorter cell phone video of the “disturbing” altercation, police said (video below).
“We are aware of a video circulating on social media that shows disturbing cellphone video of Pittsburg Police Officers making an arrest,” the department said in a Facebook post.
“The video shows an officer throwing a man to the ground then punching him several times,” they described.
“Some who’ve viewed the video mistakenly believe the suspect was handcuffed - but he was not,” the agency continued. “It is important to note that often a single video does not tell the full story…we have decided to release body-worn camera footage…to make the story as complete and open as possible.”
The incident took place on Sep. 15, after officers received a call that a man walking on Power Avenue had possibly stolen gasoline from a vehicle, which had a punctured gas tank, police said.
The man was also carrying a cup of gasoline in his hand, according to the caller.
An officer responded to the area, and exited his vehicle when he spotted a man who matched the caller’s description.
“Oddly, he was wearing a baggy jacket in the middle of a warm day,” the department’s post read.
The officer had prior encounters with the unnamed 31-year-old suspect, who was also on probation.
As the officer walked over to him and began asking him questions, the man held his right hand in his pocket “as if concealing something from the officer’s view,” police said.
The man complied with the officer’s second command to remove his hand from his pocket, but then held his hand somewhat behind him, the video showed.
He denied having stolen gasoline, so the officer asked him if he could search the backpack he was carrying.
As the suspect handed over the bag, the officer noticed he had his right hand tucked oddly inside the arm of his coat.
“Why don’t you drop what you have in your hand for me,” the officer said.
“I can’t do that – sorry sir, “the man replied.
“Why not?” the officer asked.
“Because I don’t trust you guys,” the suspect answered. “You gonna shoot me?”
The men then threw his arms open wide.
“Shoot me,” he said repeatedly.
The officer calmly directed the man to drop what he was holding, and radioed for assistance.
A second officer arrived at the scene within seconds.
“Drop it!” he yelled at the man, as the end of a crowbar slipped out of the suspect’s right sleeve.
“Shoot me,” he said again, just before he tossed the crowbar down onto the sidewalk.
The second officer ordered him to get onto the ground, but he refused.
“You’re gonna get tased,” the officer cautioned.
“As the officers moved in and tried to handcuff him, he pulled away to resist arrest,” the department’s post read. “That’s when one of the officers took the man to the ground where he continued to struggle as they attempted to handcuff him.”
The man yelled at the officers to get off of him, and refused to give them his hands, the video showed.
Blood could be seen on the sidewalk and curb.
“Despite their efforts, they were unable to bring his wrists together,” the agency said. “Both officers then delivered ‘distraction blows’ or punches [both open handed and closed] in an effort to distract him enough to bring his arms behind his back.”
Those efforts “ultimately proved successful,” the department noted.
“Shoot my -ss! Don’t beat me up,” the bloodied man yelled as the officers searched him. “Let’s go to court.”
The suspect was treated for lacerations before he was taken to jail on charges of resisting arrest and violating his probation, police said.
Investigators also believe he was the individual responsible for the gas theft, but that investigation was still ongoing.
“By policy, officers should use force as a last resort,” the department wrote. “By its nature, it never looks good. But, often the use of force is both for public and officer safety.”
“The Police Chief personally reviews every incident where an officer uses force. This case is no different,” the agency added. “The Department has launched an internal investigation to determine if the force used during this incident was appropriate and reasonable.”
You can watch bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with the suspect in the video below: