Officer Who Punched Alleged Jaywalker Allowed to Return to Active Duty

Nandi Cain speaks to the media in April with Attorney John Burris to his left

Yesterday it was reported that the officer who punched alleged jaywalker Nandi Cain, Jr.,  in Del Paso Heights back in April will be allowed to return to duty with no public details on the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.

The department announced that it had completed the investigation into the April 10 incident involving Officer Anthony Figueroa, who repeatedly punched the resident.

Chief Daniel Hahn said that state law prevented him from providing details of the investigation and whether the officer was disciplined, although he did allow that “the end result of this contact is not what we want to see.”

Back on July 31 the DA’s office wrote a letter that the Bee reported on Monday, where the DA concluded “that it is not reasonably likely a jury would convict either Officer Figueroa or Nandi Cain of a criminal offense related to this incident.”

The DA did say that it found that Mr. Cain failed to comply with commands from the officer, which supported the officer’s escalation to a use of force.  However, the Bee points out that a “pedestrian group questioned the legality of the stop in the days after it happened.”

“We recognize police officers do not have the luxury of walking away from a subject who refused an order during an investigation. However, regardless of the lawfulness of the initial attempt to
detain, the facts of this case highlight the existing tension between some community members and law enforcement,” the DA concluded.

The Bee also reported that the chief met Officer Figueroa for the first time earlier on Monday.  He reportedly asked the officer “if he was willing to partake in restorative justice with the Del Paso Heights community. Restorative justice involves trying to repair harm by having the offender and victim work together on a resolution.”  The Chief indicated that Mr. Figueroa “expressed a willingness to explore options.”

Chief Hahn said that he could order such a meeting, however, he did not want to.  “Ordering someone to a community meeting that absolutely doesn’t want to be there … is not going to go well,” the Chief emphasized.

In a city that has been racked in recent months by a number of high profile shootings and other allegations of police misconduct, the resolution here would figure to make matters worse rather than better.

The incident began during the daylight hours on April 10 as Mr. Cain was walking home from a job and appeared to legally cross at the intersection of Cypress Street and Grand Avenue.

Officer Figueroa drove his vehicle up behind him and verbally ordered Mr. Cain to stop, but Mr. Cain kept walking.

Mr. Cain continued and crossed the street.  The altercation escalated and Mr. Cain says he removed his jacket in order to demonstrate he had no weapons – a move the department claimed was a preparation for a fight.

Mr. Cain challenged the officer to fight at this point.  He would later explain he said this out of a sense of frustration and powerlessness.

He told a press conference in April, “This isn’t the first time that this happened, but it’s the first time it’s been caught on camera.”

At this point Officer Figueroa threw Mr. Cain on the pavement, punching him about 18 times.

John Burris at an April press conference questioned whether this was even jaywalking, stating that “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.

“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.”

The department’s statement on April 11 was, “The actions of the involved Sacramento police officer are disturbing and (do) not appear to be reasonable based upon the circumstances.”

Mr. Cain later said of Officer Anthony Figueroa, “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.”

—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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