The beating of Nandi Cain, who was walking home from work in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood of Sacramento two weeks ago, lawfully crossing the street, when he was stopped by Sac PD Officer Anthony Figueroa, has prompted one lawsuit according to Civil Rights Attorney John Burris, and he told reporters that they were planning another against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident was caught on video and quickly went viral, with the department, in a rare move, publicly condemning the actions of its officer a day after the incident. “The actions of the involved Sacramento police officer are disturbing and (do) not appear to be reasonable based upon the circumstances,” the department said April 11.
Mr. Cain spoke for the first time to the media on Monday outside of the Del Paso Heights Public Library, less than a block from where the incident occurred two weeks before.
“I’m here to get justice and to make sure justice is served and to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Mr. Cain said Monday during the press conference. “Racism is still alive. And you wouldn’t think that in 2017 — [you would think] that it would die. But it still exists.” He later said that “it’s corrupting.
“I had done nothing wrong,” he said, when he was approached by the officer. Mr. Cain spoke in a quiet, almost somber tone.
When asked, he had trouble recounting the incident and one of his attorneys, Melissa Nold, indicated that “he’s still under treatment for his concussion.”
Of officer Anthony Figueroa he said, “I don’t think he should be able to work here.” He explained that “he was very aggressive and I don’t think the police department needs an aggressive person on the force. They need to figure out the situation beforehand, before they take action.”
He said, “This isn’t the first time that this happened, but it’s the first time it’s been caught on camera.”
John Burris, along with his legal team, announced that they had filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Sacramento as well as Officer Anthony Figueroa. “Mr. Cain’s federal civil rights were violated when he was viciously assaulted by Officer Figueroa on April 10. He was assaulted in such a way that belies decency and commonsense. He was battered almost to a point of submission on a fact pattern that did not in any way justify that level of force.”
He said that there was a dispute as to whether it was jaywalking, and “we contend that it was not jaywalking, but jaywalking in and of itself does not excuse and should not ever result in a person being beaten about his face and head without a justification for it.
“This situation was outrageous because Mr. Cain was walking home, walking after coming from work,” Mr. Burris said, “but euphemistically he was ‘walking while black.’” He said, “There was nothing he had done before that to justify the level of interaction and ultimately the level of physical force that was used against him.
“These are constitutional violations,” the longtime civil rights attorney said. “This may very well be indicative of a pattern of the use of physical force, excessive force against African American males.
“We are particularly concerned about (the fact that) many of these situations result from the use of jaywalking,” he said, noting, “African Americans are arrested a disproportionately higher rate (for) jaywalking than other ethnic groups.”
Mr. Burris also explained, “There was no effort to try to deescalate the situation – at best what we have is an escalation of it,” with the officer attempting to go hands on.
“Any professional, reasonable, respectful officer could have been able to deescalate this situation and not have to use the vicious attack tactic,” he said. “In my point of view the problem was with the officer and how he approached this situation.”
Mr. Burris went on to explain that, after being beaten, “he was humiliated in the car by being called names.” He said, “At the jail, the officer continued his assault on him and treating him in an inhumane way.”
He said he hopes to get video from the jail to show what occurred. In their suit, they allege, “Upon entering the jail, Mr. Cain was placed on a psychiatric hold at Officer Figueroa’s insistence, forcefully stripped naked, and forced to the ground, while multiple officers, including Officer Figueroa, continued to abuse and degrade the defenseless man.
“To add insult to injury, after Mr. Cain broke down in tears from his terrifying and surreal ordeal, Defendant Figueroa and other jail staff called Mr. Cain a ‘bitch’ and said that he was ‘crying like a bitch,’ in addition to telling Mr. Cain that he ‘stank.’”
Mr. Cain was eventually released without charges, but Mr. Burris noted that his head hit the cement and he should have been taken to receive medical treatment at that time.
Adante Pointer, an attorney in Mr. Burris’ office, emphasized that, in addition to the initial assault on the street, “it continued when Mr. Cain was in the jail.
“Mr. Cain was essentially stripped naked and beaten while he was in a defenseless position on the floor,” he said. “The deputies who engaged in this conduct made fun of his condition and essentially ridiculed him for being defenseless and helpless on the ground while they stripped him naked and placed him in an isolation cell.
“They put him essentially on suicide watch,” he continued.
He was trying to maintain the last shred of dignity that he had, Mr. Pointer explained, “by not crying out in pain and trying to hold in the terror that I’m sure he felt. But when he could no longer do it after they continued twisting, pressing, and jabbing their knees in his body, when he finally yelled out that yelp of pain as a result of what they were doing to his body, they finally stopped.
“When they stopped physically assaulting him, they then called him all kinds of names and made fun of the condition that he’s in,” he said. “That’s not the kind of treatment we expect anywhere in America, much less the Sacramento city.”
The Sacramento Police, in a statement following the incident, said that the suspect was arrested for resisting arrest and for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. However, he was released at roughly 2:30 am on April 11 after police determined that they had insufficient grounds for charging him.
—David M. Greenwald reporting