The Carlsbad Police Department has released a video featuring body camera footage from two different angles depicting the contentious Tasering and arrest of a black man who is heard shouting “I’m not doin’ nothing!” and This is what you stand for!
The videos, which were released Saturday, are stitched together with one shot by a passerby who made waves on social media after it was uploaded.
“Open lines of communication between the police department and the community are more important now than ever,” the department said in a statement about the incident. “That’s why we are providing a detailed chronology of this incident.”
The release of the arrest footage follows the recent removal of several use-of-force tactics from the Carlsbad police playbook — including banning chokeholds and shooting at vehicles — as departments across the country grapple with the fallout from the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
The videos shot Thursday show authorities having a conversation with a man wearing purple and gold outerwear with a green turtle shell backpack. The man was later identified as Marcel Cox-Harshaw, 27, of San Diego.
At 22 seconds he bellows, Are you mocking me? before approaching a masked paramedic.
“What do you mean when you say it?” Cox-Harshaw is shown asking the first responder.
At 40 seconds into the video a policeman says, “Let me see your hand,” as officers immediately grab at his wrists to place him under arrest.
“Easy now,” one of the officials says. “Easy now. Easy now.”
Then, 49 seconds into the video, as Cox-Harshaw asks, “Are you really trying to stop me right now?” one of the body cameras is knocked off of a policeman.
Four seconds later, the second body camera tumbles to the ground, although audio is still being recorded by both. Later, the video shot by the witness is added into the mix, before imagery from the body cams is visible again.
By the time that third video starts, Cox-Harshaw is already on the ground screaming, “I am right here!,” after one of the officers asks him to, “Give me your arms!”
“I was working in the office because I’m the watch commander and I’ve got two field supervisors out in the field,” said Lt. Greg White, recalling hearing the officers call for backup — a Code 3 cover. “I assumed that there’d been some type of struggle…. It usually means you need help yesterday.”
After an officer first tried using the localized “stun” feature of the Taser, which didn’t seem to affect Cox-Harshaw, the device’s “darts” were deployed — although that didn’t subdue him either, White said.
It’s why the officers moved on to “brute force,” according to White.
“In my opinion, from what I saw, the force they used was to maintain custody and control of the gentleman,” who was the watch commander on shift at the time of the incident. “He became aggressive towards the paramedics that were just there to help him.”
About four minutes into the video one of the officers puts what looks like a white bag over his head.
“It’s called a spit sock,” White said, adding it’s meant to protect officers from potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. “It doesn’t restrict his breathing or his vision at all.”
White understands that the optics might make some people feel uncomfortable.
“There is no use of force that looks good,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”
A lot of things have changed in the nearly three decades White’s been policing. The removal of the chokehold as an option for law enforcement makes sense, he says, particularly with the civil unrest sweeping the nation focused on police use-of-force tactics.
“It became a huge public concern,” he said, referring to chokeholds. “There could be complications. There were concerns that the risk of that technique is too high.”
That’s why the department invited a prominent local police reform advocate to analyze the body cam video prior to releasing it to the public, White said, adding he believes Cox-Harshaw may either have mental health challenges or could have been under the influence of drugs.
“We work hard to maintain the positive relationships with our community,” he said. “We don’t take it lightly.”
Cox-Harshaw was cited for public drunkenness and released to Scripps Encinitas Hospital the same night he was arrested, White said.
Police have recommended charges of being drunk in public and resisting arrest against Cox-Harshaw.
— City News Service