The arrest of a homeless and disabled man in San Francisco is raising questions about police conduct after several officers were seen handling the man so brutally, his prosthetic leg nearly fell off.
During the Aug. 4 incident, the man — who hasn’t been identified — was accused of flailing his crutches in the air near the UN Plaza. Reports claim the man walked into the middle of the street declaring, “I don’t care if I get hit by a car.”
The video was captured by bystander and writer Chaédria LaBouvier. The encounter lasted nearly 30 minutes, but LaBouvier’s video captured the precise moment the man is subdued by four officers. The police give no clear explanation as to why the man is being arrested. The man questions the officers while one holds his head and two others handcuff him. Another officer is seen going in between his legs, holding down his prosthetic.
Ten more officers arrive on the scene, forming a barrier between the officers and pedestrians who pulled out their phones to record the arrest.
Throughout the incident, the officers do not respond to the man’s questions.
LaBouvier can be overheard repeatedly questioning and condemning the officers’ actions on camera. For the most part, they ignore her.
“You don’t have enough respect for this human being to pull his pants up? This is ridiculous.” says La Bouvier on the video. Other bystanders audibly concur. “You are supposed to protect and serve the community… This is wrong.”
At one point an officer tells her, along with the rest of the people who have gathered, to “step back.”
At about 10 minutes into the footage, the police pull up the man’s pants. More officers arrive at the scene — fourteen policemen to detain one man.
The San Francisco Police Department defended the arrest, telling CBS the man was not knocked down by police.
“He was waving sticks around,” said Officer Grace Gatpandan. “The 911 caller was concerned for the person’s safety as well as the safety of others.”
“You can see in the video that he does attempt to bite the officers and kick officers, both of which are crimes,” said Gatpandan. “However, we thought it would be best to take him to the hospital instead of arresting him for a crime.”
It is legal to record the police, just as long as the civilian isn’t blocking official activities. Recently, SB 411, which gives civilians the right to record law enforcement, was passed by California Gov. Jerry Brown.