The Sacramento Police Department on Thursday released body camera footage showing a July 9 incident in which a pregnant woman says an officer threw her onto the ground outside her apartment.
The release of four separate video clips was the first high-profile decision by new Police Chief Daniel Hahn, who was sworn in last Friday. Police said in a statement it was done at Hahn’s discretion as part of the department’s ongoing effort to increase transparency.
“(Hahn) thought it was important to release the video in a timely manner so that the public could view the incident,” said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, a department spokesman.
The city previously withheld the videos when The Sacramento Bee filed a Public Records Act request for the clips last month, citing an ongoing investigation.
The videos show portions of the July 9 incident in which Police Department personnel said they were looking for an auto-theft suspect believed to be in the area. In the video, officers come in contact with Zityrua Abraham, the pregnant woman making the claims against the department, outside her home at the 800 block of Lampasas Avenue in North Sacramento.
Abraham told reporters last month that Sacramento police officers swarmed into her apartment while she was sitting outside, accompanied by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. She moved to go inside the home where her son slept after seeing the officers, who had their guns drawn.
“My kid is in the house,” Abraham is heard saying in the video.
When she moves toward the doorway, an officer grabs her arm and moves her aside. She is seen being moved out of the front door area by the officer, but the video does not show her falling to the ground. For a split-second, Abraham can be seen on the ground in a window reflection.
In a statement, police said, “She refused to follow officer’s commands to move, so an officer grabbed her arm and pulled her to the left of him and out of the officers’ path to the doorway. After the officer let go, it appears her momentum took her from the paved walkway to the uneven grass surface. She lost her balance and fell to the ground.”
On Thursday, Abraham said the video release does not capture the moment when she was thrown to the ground. She said one officer initially grabbed her by the arm and moved her into the path of another officer who actually threw her.
“He pushes me out of the way, and that’s the cop that did that to me, but it doesn’t show it,” she said.
Thereafter in the video, she is heard telling officers that she is pregnant and that they harmed her, and that her 1-year-old son is inside the apartment where officers kicked in the door and entered with guns drawn. She repeatedly asked for the badge numbers of all officers on hand.
Her mother’s boyfriend was shown on video being handcuffed and searched, then later released when officers determined they had the wrong person.
Abraham filed a complaint to the department’s Internal Affairs Division regarding the incident on July 11. Last month, she told reporters she had been to the doctor but that medical staff have been unable to tell her if her unborn son was injured in the incident.
“I’m stressed on the fact that I don’t know (what’s) actually going to happen to him,” she said at the time.
She said the video release was disappointing, and that she was still considering pressing charges in connection to the incident.
Four video clips were taken from different officers at the scene, parts of which were blurred or redacted by the department to protect the privacy of the people involved. Heinlein said the videos show the officers did not mean for Abraham to fall when they came in contact with her.
“This is an unfortunate incident that occurred,” Heinlein said. “As you can see in the video, there was no malice in the officer’s actions.”
The videos did not fall under the city’s police video-release policy passed by City Council in November.