April V. Taylor
After a year of nationwide protests against police brutality, passers-by are still able to capture police officers using excessive force against unarmed citizens. This time, Medium reporter Chaedria LaBouvier captured a Black man being taken down by San Francisco police officers outside of Twitter headquarters.
What makes the August 4th incident seem worse than other incidences of police brutality that have been captured on video is that this particular incident involved 14 San Francisco police officers and a homeless unarmed Black man who only had one leg. Witnesses report that officers had been called about someone waving sticks around, with no one on the scene completely sure who made the call.
LaBouvier captured the incident after officers had already approached the man and picks up with officers holding him down, half-naked for at least a half an hour. To make matters worse, the street where the incident occurred was one of San Francisco’s busiest in terms of traffic. The sticks that someone reported the man had been waving around were actually his crutches. The tension between the man and officers was over the fact that he did not want to give up his crutches to the officers.
The man asked officers multiple times, “What are you doing this for? These are my crutches. I use them to walk.” Footage shows one officer stomping on his prosthetic leg. After the man was handcuffed and pinned to the ground with four people on top of him, officers stood on his leg, twisting it at one point. Officers continued to pin the man to the concrete even after it was obvious that he was unable to walk.
Several officers on the scene tried to block the public’s view of officers’ actions. The man can be heard on the video saying “they’re going to shoot me,” with a bystander reassuring him that people were filming in an effort to prevent that from happening.
The man was not arrested, but was instead strapped to a stretcher and carted off to a hospital despite there not being any apparent reason for him to need medical treatment. La Bouvier reports that the man was clearly “humiliated, crying and deeply upset.”
The San Francisco Police Department has a history of controversy. Earlier this year, the department became embroiled in a scandal over racist text messages. This year also saw several current and former officers sentenced to jail for drug dealing and pocketing money that was confiscated during raids.