Sacramento has tentatively settled a lawsuit with a black man who was beaten by a city police officer last April after a jaywalking stop, an incident that ignited community outrage and led to national headlines.
Attorney John Burris confirmed to The Sacramento Bee on Thursday that Nandi Cain Jr. has agreed to settle his federal civil rights claim for a series of changes in police procedures and a $550,000 payment under a deal approved by the Sacramento City Council earlier this month.
Burris said Cain was "quite pleased that we did something more than just get money for him. He likes the idea that the case itself, as he would say, was bigger than him and something more came out of it."
Cain did not return calls for comment.
Burris said the most significant part of the settlement was the department's agreement to implement a series of reforms, including more monitoring and data collection.
The changes include a random audit process for body-worn camera footage to ensure officers' actions match their police reports, and to confirm officers are using implicit bias and procedural justice training in the field, said Burris.
"Basically it's trying to monitor a police officer's conduct after you train them," said Burris. "It's also about talking to people in a consistent way, both African Americans and whites, because we have seen in other areas that black officers and white officers talk to black people differently than they talk to whites."
The city is required through the Cain agreement to make results of those audits public and report them to Cain every six months for the first three years of the settlement.
The settlement also requires the city to track and report jaywalking citations and change its use-of-force policy, though details of that were not immediately available.
The use-of-force policy, especially in regards to lethal force, has become a priority topic in the wake of the officer-involved shooting of Stephon Clark on March 18. Clark, a black man, was holding a cellphone that officers allegedly mistook for a gun when he was shot eight times by two Sacramento police officers in his grandmother's backyard.
Burris said the city was amenable to making change throughout the negotiation process.
"The most important thing is there was no significant push-back on the part of the department ... They were very receptive to what we wanted to get done," said Burris. "I found it refreshing."
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg voiced support for the resolution in a statement Friday morning.
“Our city is fully committed to transparency and changing training, protocols and procedures to make sure these unacceptable incidents don’t occur,” said Steinberg.
Sacramento police referred requests for comment to the city until the agreement is final.
The altercation with Cain, 25, happened last April 10 when Cain was walking home from work in Del Paso Heights. Video and audio released by police in the wake of the incident showed Sacramento police Officer Anthony Figueroa stopped his patrol vehicle to approach Cain on foot after Cain crossed an intersection at Grand Avenue and Cypress Street. Figueroa said he was stopping Cain for jaywalking, though pedestrian advocates questioned the validity of the stop because Cain was traveling from a sidewalk to another sidewalk on the opposite side of the road.
After a verbal altercation, Figueroa threw Cain to the ground and punched him in the face multiple times before arresting him. The incident was caught on video by bystander Naomi Montaie and quickly went viral. Cain also said he was abused in the Sacramento County Main Jail, and settled that part of the suit last fall.
The city settlement also includes a provision that Figueroa will not work as a patrol officer in Del Paso Heights – the area the incident occurred and where Cain lives – until at least 2020, and until he has completed implicit bias training.
Figueroa had returned to patrolling the area after the incident, but is currently patrolling in the Central Division which includes the downtown area, said police spokesperson Officer Linda Matthew. In Sacramento, union rules allow officers some discretion to choose where they work.
All officers in the department will also be required to participate in scenario-based implicit bias and procedural justice training, and all recruits in the academy will now have cultural immersion training as part of the agreement, Burris said.
Montaie, whose cell phone video of the incident first brought it widespread attention, said despite the settlement she remained skeptical of policing in Sacramento.
"I am a good person and I didn’t want to start hating police officers. But I don’t trust a lot of them," she said. "We have good ones, we have bad ones, we have indifferent ones. We have lovable, caring, likeable ones, but it doesn’t matter because they are all in the same thing. ... It traumatized me."
Sacramento city senior deputy city attorney Chance Trimm said city officials had not formally signed the agreement as of Friday.
Burris' office said Cain had signed the final documents, but details on how the reforms will be implemented have not been finalized.