A California police officer is under investigation after a violent encounter Monday with a jaywalker, in which he slammed the man to the ground and pummeled him in the face.
The unnamed Sacramento officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay, the Sacramento Police Department announced Tuesday. The leave was initiated after officials reviewed the officer's in-car camera videos, as well as a video posted to Facebook by a bystander.
"The preliminary investigation led the (officer's) supervisor to believe that there were significant policy concerns, and (he) immediately notified his chain of command," the department said in a news release.
The department’s videos and reports indicated that the officer’s actions were “outside of policy,” the statement said. After viewing the Facebook video, which captured the confrontation more clearly than the officer’s dashboard camera did, department officials placed the officer on leave.
A criminal investigation into the officer’s actions has also been launched, the department said.
The dashboard video recorded the officer, who is white, approaching Nandi Cain Jr., who is black, after he saw Cain cross the street illegally.
“Can you come here please?” the officer said as he walked up behind Cain on the sidewalk. “Come here, bud. Get your hands out of your pockets.”
Cain pulled his hands out of his pockets and held them up in the air, but kept walking. Though Cain's verbal response to the officer was unintelligible, police said he questioned the officer's validity to stop him.
“I do. You’re jaywalking. You were jaywalking back here,” the officer replied.
Cain could be heard saying that he looked both ways before crossing the street, and that the officer was harassing him for no reason.
Within seconds, the officer began threatening to “take (Cain) to the ground.”
“Stop right now before I take you to the ground,” the officer demanded, one hand on what appeared to be his holstered gun. “If you do not stop right now, I will take you to the ground.”
Cain could be heard telling the officer he “pulled (him) over for nothing.” He continued to back away from the officer, moving into the street.
A red vehicle pulled up near Cain and the officer. From the vehicle’s location in the dashboard video, it appeared that it was the vehicle carrying passenger Naomi Montaie.
Montaie was the witness who posted the Facebook video that led to the officer being placed on leave. Sacramento police officials on Tuesday released Montaie’s video along with the dashboard video.
The officer continued to tell Cain to stop before ordering him down on the ground. Cain removed his jacket, telling the officer he had nothing dangerous on him.
“I don’t have nothing,” Cain said. “If you’re a real man, you can take your gun away, and you can fight me like a real man.”
“Okay, okay,” the officer responded before grabbing Cain by neck and slamming him to the ground.
“Hey, why are you doing him like that?” Montaie screamed as the officer straddled Cain’s body and used both fists to repeatedly punch him in the face.
The driver of the car Montaie was in parked, and both women got out of the car, screaming.
“Hey, why are you beating him like that?” Montaie screamed. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! He beating him like that! Oh, Jesus!”
She continued to record him as a second officer arrived and helped the first officer handcuff Cain.
“I ain’t got (expletive) on me! I just got off of work!” Cain said from the ground. “You going to be hearing from my lawyer and my boss!”
“Why did you take him down like that, though, sir? That wasn’t right!” a tearful sounding Montaie continued as an additional two officers arrived.
At least seven officers could be seen in the video as one officer searched Cain’s pockets. An officer was heard telling him he was accused of jaywalking.
“What’s that?” Cain asked. “I looked both ways, wasn’t no cars in the street. I’m a grown (expletive) man. I know how to cross the street.”
Cain said that he learned in the first grade to look both ways before crossing the street.
“I don’t give a (expletive) about jaywalking. I don’t five a (expletive) about none of that (expletive),” Cain told the officers. “I’ve been having a hard (expletive) week, and y’all need to leave me the (expletive) alone! I’m tired!”
He was then led, handcuffed, to a patrol car.
Sacramento police officials said Tuesday that Cain was initially charged with resisting arrest, as well as on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant out of Fresno County. He was released early that morning, however, after the resisting charge was dropped.
“Investigative staff determined that there were insufficient grounds for making a criminal complaint against the pedestrian,” the news release read. “Because of this information, a police sergeant responded to the jail to process the paperwork required to drop the criminal charges and seek his release from custody. At approximately 2:30 a.m. this morning, he was released from custody and issued a court date for his outstanding warrant.”
It was not clear what charge led to the outstanding warrant.
The department was reproachful in its public statement.
“The actions of the involved Sacramento police officer are disturbing and does (sic) not appear to be reasonable based upon the circumstances,” the statement read. “The Sacramento Police Department holds itself to the highest professional standard, and the actions that were observed are not indicative of the dedicated women and men who work for the department.”
Cain told KCRA in Sacramento that he was afraid for his life during the confrontation.
"I thought I was going to be like the next Trayvon Martin," Cain told the news station. "I thought, as soon as they got me on the ground, and they start putting my arms in different positions, I felt like they were going to draw a gun out and shoot me in my back or try to break my arms off or something."
When asked if he had a message for the police department, Cain said officers need to do their jobs serving and protecting the public and not use their power to their advantage.
"There's a lot of people out there doing a lot worse things than I'm doing, just crossing the street, you know," Cain said. "Right now, somebody's probably being held hostage or kidnapped or something else worse in the world is going on. And you need to be taking your energy and time out on that, instead of what you did to me."
The police department said that once the criminal investigation into the officer is complete, all reports and evidence will be turned over to the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office to determine if charges will be filed.