Victim of Sac PD Beating Speaks to Media for First Time

Nandi Cain speaks to the media on Monday with Attorney John Burris to his left

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.”

Attorney John Burris speaks to reporters on Monday

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, flanked by Mr. Burris and Mr. Cain

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

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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11 thoughts on “Victim of Sac PD Beating Speaks to Media for First Time”

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      My mic cut out unfortunately, but basically he explained that the officer took an immediate aggressive stance with him, grabbed at his gun, he said that it was not a challenge to fight but rather a statement made out of fear and frustration. He said “If you were a real man, you could take your gun away and you could fight me like a real man,” the officer said “ok come here” and threw him to the ground.

      The Bee quotes him saying: “I never wanted to fight that guy,” said Cain. “I didn’t say those things as a threat or to fight him or I never threatened him. I never put my fists up to fight him or attacked him or anything. I just said if you’ve got a problem then you can take your belt off and your gun off and fight me like a man if that’s what you want to do, but I’m not going to get down on my knees because I didn’t see anything wrong that I did.”

      My view is based on the video, even if he did say that, the officer acted wrongly and shouldn’t have taken the bait. This is completely on the officer in my view. I’m sure officers get challenged like that all the time, good officers allow it to roll of their back.

      What happened in the jail is criminal if accurate.

      1. Keith O

        Sure he’s going to downplay what he did to elevate the situation.  But what he said and challenged is all on tape.  Yes the officer was wrong but this guy is no angel either even though that’s how he’s being portrayed.  He came off as very aggressive.

        1. David Greenwald

          I saw the video and heard what he said, my view is that the officer should have handled it differently and that his comment under duress didn’t pose a credible risk to the officer, the police department had a similar view.  The guy I saw out there yesterday was a broken man, you can see the photos, his voice was barely audible, and apparently far worse happened once he was in custody.  If you want to say he’s not an angel, that’s fine, but from what I see this is very bad conduct by the police.  And then we wonder why things happen like at picnic day.

        2. Howard P

          And then we wonder why things happen like at picnic day

          So, David, you see the Picnic Day attack on the officers to be understandable, ‘justified’ (like another poster implied), perhaps even ‘righteous’?  Or, would you agree with me that both the Sac thing and the Davis thing was abhorrent, unjustified, and wrong, deserving of punishment?

          Here’s the deal… the Sac guy will likely get a ‘payday’ in civil damages.  The two Davis officers, not a chance… so much for justice.

          Can’t wait to see if the VG asserts the Davis PD officer attackers are being ‘over-charged’…

          The Sac police officer should be fired, publically scorned, serve time for at least assault, lose his rights to a pension, and be subject to civil fines/judgements.

          Will be interesting to see what, if any, consequences the three Picnic Day assailants will be subjected to… perhaps they ate Twinkies earlier in the day, and should be let off for ‘time served’ while awaiting trial?


          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You have a tendency to read into comments far beyond where they were intended to go. My only point is that there is a two-way street of distrust here and when officers act like this one, people looking to pick a fight are not going to discern between an officer doing their job and an officer looking to pick a fight.

        3. Howard P

          See you point, David, about reading too much into verbiage that can be interpreted in several ways… will endeavor to work on that, but there are many here who say one thing, but imply another.

          I accept I read too much into what you wrote, based on what you say you intended to convey.

          One of my favorite quotes:

          “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

          Will try to remember that quote… [Robert McCloskey, author of “Make Way for Ducklings”]

  1. Tia Will


    Let’s suppose for a moment that Mr. Cain did verbally try to pick a fight with Officer Figueroa. Let’s look at their relative relationship. The officer is a paid professional whose job it is to protect the community. So first, if he had not chosen to detain Mr. Cain, there would have been no argument. Secondly, Mr. Cain is not paid to be “respectful” to Officer Figueroa and has no duty to be so. Granted it is wise, but not obligatory.

    Officer Figueroa has a professional duty which is not incumbent upon Mr. Cain. In professional interactions, it is my opinion that whether the participants are police/citizen, or doctor/patient, there is no room for lack of professionalism on the part of the professional. Frequently on these tapes, we hear the officers swearing at detainees and calling them names and verbally abusing them. It is always incumbent upon the professional to remain so and not descend to the level of the non professional in each setting. In my 30 years in medicine, I have been and have heard other doctors called by many names, our licenses and jobs threatened by patients and family, and yet I have never once heard a doctor reply in kind to a patient ( at least not within patient/public earshot). If it is possible for docs to endure name calling and threats, why does this seem to be so impossible for some of our counterparts in the police ? Escalation of an already contentious situation, whether by verbal abuse or by use of excessive force is unacceptable and we should be holding our police to a higher standard of professionalism given their life and death power over us.

    1. Howard P

      Seems like in Sac, the officer was looking to ‘pick a fight’… not true in the Picnic Day incident, as reported to date.  It appears to be others, from out of town, itching for a ‘fight’, or more likely, a “beat down” of people they perceived as ‘symbols’…

      Physicians are not always as “professional” as you imply… they too have the power of “life and death”… a little too much anesthetics, an ‘inadvertent’ slip of the scalpel, misdiagnoses, failure to treat due to lack of financial resources of patient, etc.

      We are talking about a very tiny slice of folk in professions, who are “rogue”, technically/professionally incompetent… but one gets played up more…

      In the medical field, it apparently got so bad, that to have a simple cataract surgery, I needed to have three separate people interview me, verify what eye was to be worked on, and each “signed off” on my forehead, above the eye.

      Your post seems more than a bit self-righteous… yes, we need to weed out rogue cops… clearly… but ‘physician heal thy profession’… the old saw was “what is the difference between a physician and an engineer?” The answer is “physicians get to bury their mistakes”.

      If you look at hospitals, medical practices, the professional boards, there are as many or more “cover-ups” and “white-washing” as there is in law enforcement… and it is all WRONG!

  2. Tia Will


    Your post seems more than a bit self-righteous”

    I would have you go back and read what you wrote to David. I wrote what is true for me. I have seen doctors have to work on the issue of professionalism over many, many years. You are correct, we are no angels and have to fight down our anger and sometimes our disgust as when a filthy patient comes in on a regular basis. What you see as “self righteous”, I see as an ongoing process of attempted improvement.

    In the medical field, it apparently got so bad, that to have a simple cataract surgery, I needed to have three separate people interview me, verify what eye was to be worked on, and each “signed off” on my forehead, above the eye.”

    It was never that it “got so bad” that we had to resort to multiple verification. We are humans, and humans err. Wrong side surgeries have always been rare events, but during my time in medicine we came to call them”never” events. It is unacceptable to ever operate on the wrong eye or limb. Why the duplication of efforts by staff ?  Just one example. I have met a number of patients who themselves made an error about which side was to be operated on. If the patient can be an unreliable informant about which side is to be operated, how much more diligence is needed by the staff to make sure that records, patient/family, studies ( x-ray, US, MRI, CT) and entire surgical team are all in agreement.

    Also, the “cover up” used to be a very common event in medicine as it appears to still be in some, but likely not all police departments. This is no longer the case at least in Kaiser and I believe that a large part of the reason is that our malpractice is covered by Kaiser. Thus there is no financial or reputatonal reason to ever cover one’s actions. That leaves the team free to explore what went wrong and where a poor outcome could have been prevented since bad outcomes are usually process problems rather than single individual error. I suspect that is true within police departments as well.

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