Video of cops pinning down one-legged black man sparks outrage

SAN FRANCISCO • A cellphone video showing San Francisco police officers pinning down and handcuffing a one-legged black man near the city's downtown financial district has sparked anger on social media.

The footage emerged amid a national debate over police use of force, particularly against minority groups, following the deaths of a number of unarmed black men at the hands of police.

The 11-minute video, taken on Aug 4 and uploaded on YouTube on Monday, opens with five officers straddling and attempting to handcuff the struggling man.

One officer was seen standing directly on his prosthetic leg. The man could be heard saying he was in pain and asking to be let go. His pants could also be seen falling below his buttocks, where they remained for several minutes before the officers pulled them back up.

"This is how you treat citizens? By having him partially nude while you pin him down on his prosthetic leg?" said Ms Chaedria LaBouvier, who recorded the video. "You aren't serving this community if that's policing to you."

About 12 officers could be seen forming a wall between the man and a gaggle of onlookers, many with cellphones in hand, before a wheelchair is taken to him and the clip ends.

San Francisco Police spokesman Grace Gatpandan said officers encountered the 42-year-old man waving wooden sticks around and detained him for a mental health evaluation as he walked towards street traffic.

Ms Gatpandan said several responding officers knew the man, who had an outstanding felony warrant for aggravated assault.

"Just because he is in an altered mental state does not mean he can't attack officers; in this case, they are using their body weight to hold him down," Ms Gatpandan said.

She said police chief Greg Suhr and others would "look into this situation thoroughly and determine if there were any violations of department policy".

The footage was first published in a posting to news and features website Medium, and the clip has already generated more than 100,000 views on YouTube.

"What everyday racist policing looks like: unnecessary force, brutal disrespect and little humanity," said Twitter user Karen Breakey.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Video of cops pinning down one-legged black man sparks outrage'. Print Edition | Subscribe