The confrontation was captured on video released by journalist Chaedria LaBouvier via blog platform Medium, and shows white police officers taking down a one-legged homeless black man on the city’s central Market street. According to witnesses, police were called in to the scene to take care of a suspicious man waving some “sticks” around.
The video of the incident which happened on August 4, shows the extent of humiliation and brute force exercised immediately after the man was wrestled to the ground by SFPD officers. As the disabled male struggles to move, cops pin him down.
“These are my crutches. I use these to walk,” the man tried to explain. But even after realizing that the man had a prosthetic leg, the police continued to use overwhelming physical restrain and man-handled him, forcing his head to the ground.
In further efforts to subdue a man already on the ground with four people on top of him, the officers stood on his prosthetic leg and “twisted it around even after they had cuffed him and pinned him to the piss-stained concrete,” LaBouvier noted.
Beaten to the ground, the suspect at one point said, “what the f**k is you doing this to me?” as up to 14 officers arrived to form a cordon around the incident area. “Is this respectable? When I say ‘no’, is this what you do to me?” the man said.
Witnesses spoke out against police brutality from the start of the video but to no avail as cops continued to abuse the one legged man. The camera operator especially noted the “lack of respect” for the suspect as clothes were pulled off the man during the incident. First one can see the man’s buttocks being exposed, and minutes later his entire back.
Around 6 minutes into the footage, the suspect began saying that he was in pain from the take-down and claimed he had been suffering from an infectious sore on one of his legs.
At one point, fearing for his life, the man said said “they’re going to shoot me”. A witness replied: “They ain’t gonna shoot you man, that’s why we have these cameras out here.”
The latest incident comes a year since unarmed black teen Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Anger and protests engulfedthe St. Louis suburb and spread nationwide, giving birth to the Black Lives Matter movement. They were exacerbated further by the subsequent deaths of black suspects during encounters with US police. The movement with its continued protests highlights racial tensions between police and the communities they serve.