An attempt by a Sacramento police officer to stop a man for jaywalking devolved into violence after the man refused to comply and the officer tackled him to the ground and punched him in the face several times – much of it caught on video – prompting a criminal investigation of the officer’s conduct.
The unidentified man was held briefly in the Sacramento County Main Jail before being released Tuesday morning, and the officer involved was placed on administrative leave, said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, police spokesman.
“The videos of this incident portray actions and behavior that we would consider unacceptable conduct by a Sacramento police officer,” said a department news release. “As a result, the Department’s Internal Affairs Division is investigating the event.”
Later Tuesday, police announced that a criminal investigation of the officer also was underway. “The actions of the involved Sacramento Police Officer are disturbing and (do) not appear to be reasonable based upon the circumstances,” a second news release said.
Heinlein said the department would not disclose the name of the pedestrian in the altercation, who was held in jail for resisting arrest, obstructing or delaying a police officer and an outstanding warrant, citing an ongoing internal investigation.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s inmate logs identify him as 24-year-old Nania Cain. Fresno County court records show Cain was charged with resisting arrest in 2012.
The department released him Tuesday morning due to “insufficient grounds to file a complaint,” he said.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday that he found the actions of the officer “extremely disturbing and not representative of the training nor the expectations we have for our Police Department.”
The incident started when a uniformed officer was attempting to stop Cain from jaywalking near the intersection of Cypress Street and Grand Avenue about 5:10 p.m. Monday, police said.
The officer got out of his car in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood and tried to speak with the Cain. The officer asked him to stop more than once but he continued to walk away, according to the release.
The two then exchanged words and Cain began removing his jacket and challenged the officer to a fight, police said. At that point, the officer charged cain to take him into custody.
“For an unknown reason, the officer threw the pedestrian to the ground and began striking him in the face with his hand multiple times,” the news release said.
Minutes later, backup arrived to help in handcuffing Cain, and a supervisor also came to the scene to evaluate the situation.
Heinlein said the officer, whose name he could not release, was a two-year veteran with the department who worked as a patrol officer.
Several in-car camera videos from police cruisers were released late in the day Tuesday. A video of the altercation that was posted by a witness was shared more than 4,000 times by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
About 40 people gathered Monday evening on the sidewalk along Marysville Boulevard in front of the Police Department’s William J. Kinney Police Facility to protest the incident. Many wore shirts identifying themselves with Black Lives Matter.
Cain’s girlfriend, who declined to give her name, said she came to lend her support to the protest. Her boyfriend was “still in pain and recovering,” she said.
No police were in sight.