A man beaten by a Sacramento police officer last spring after the officer accused him of jaywalking has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department, his attorney said.
John Burris told the Sacramento Bee that Nandi Cain Jr. agreed on a $550,000 settlement with the city, but said the deal offers something more important than cash -- changes in police procedure to ensure that others in his situation don't go through what he did.
“He likes the idea that the case itself, as he would say, was bigger than him and something more came out of it,” Burris told the newspaper.
The settlement and the promised changes in procedure come at a particularly tense time for the city and its police force. Sacramento officers have been under scrutiny since the March 18 fatal shooting of Stephon Clark.
Clark was shot eight times -- including six times in the back -- as he stood on his grandparents' back patio. His name and face have become a symbol of protest as angry residents have taken to the streets over the past several weeks.
The officers involved said they thought Clark had a gun. Clark was unarmed, carrying only a cellphone in his hands.
Credit: (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Credit: (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Cain’s case began April 10, 2017, as he was walking home from work in the Del Paso Heights area of Sacramento. Officer Anthony Figueroa, who was placed on administrative leave following the incident, spotted Cain and got out of his patrol car to confront him about jaywalking.
>> Related story: Officer under investigation for slamming jaywalker to ground, beating him
The entire confrontation was caught on Figueroa’s dashboard camera, as well as in a cellphone video shot by bystander Naomi Montaie. The dashboard video recorded Figueroa, who is white, approaching Cain, who is black, after he saw Cain cross the street illegally.
“Can you come here, please?” Figueroa said as he walked up behind Cain on the sidewalk. “Come here, bud. Get your hands out of your pockets.”
Cain pulled his hands out of his pockets and held them up in the air, but kept walking. Though Cain's verbal response to the officer was unintelligible, police said he questioned the officer's validity to stop him.
“I do. You’re jaywalking. You were jaywalking back here,” Figueroa replied.
Watch the officer’s dashboard camera video below. Warning: The video contains violence and explicit language that may not be acceptable to all readers.
Cain could be heard saying that he looked both ways before crossing the street, and that the officer was harassing him for no reason.
Within seconds, Figueroa began threatening to “take (Cain) to the ground.”
“Stop right now before I take you to the ground,” Figueroa demanded, one hand on what appeared to be his holstered gun. “If you do not stop right now, I will take you to the ground.”
Cain could be heard telling Figueroa he “pulled (him) over for nothing.” He continued to back away from the officer, moving into the street.
A red vehicle that Montaie was riding in pulled up near Cain and Figueroa, and Montaie began recording the incident.
Figueroa continued to tell Cain to stop before ordering him down on the ground. Cain removed his jacket, telling the officer he had nothing dangerous on him.
“I don’t have nothing,” Cain said. “If you’re a real man, you can take your gun away, and you can fight me like a real man.”
“Okay, okay,” Figueroa responded before grabbing Cain by neck and slamming him to the ground.
“Hey, why are you doing him like that?” Montaie screamed as Figueroa straddled Cain’s body and used both fists to repeatedly punch him in the face.
The driver of the car Montaie was in parked, and both women got out of the car, screaming.
“Hey, why are you beating him like that?” Montaie screamed. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! He beating him like that! Oh, Jesus!”
She continued to record Figueroa as a second officer arrived and helped him handcuff Cain.
Watch Montaie’s video below. Warning: The video contains violence and explicit language that may not be acceptable to all readers.
“I ain’t got (expletive) on me! I just got off of work!” Cain said from the ground. “You going to be hearing from my lawyer and my boss!”
“Why did you take him down like that, though, sir? That wasn’t right!” a tearful-sounding Montaie continued as an additional two officers arrived.
At least seven officers could be seen in the video as one officer searched Cain’s pockets. An officer was heard telling him he was accused of jaywalking.
“What’s that?” Cain asked. “I looked both ways, wasn’t no cars in the street. I’m a grown (expletive) man. I know how to cross the street.”
Cain said that he learned in the first grade to look both ways before crossing the street.
“I don’t give a (expletive) about jaywalking. I don’t give a (expletive) about none of that (expletive),” Cain told the officers. “I’ve been having a hard (expletive) week, and y’all need to leave me the (expletive) alone! I’m tired!”
He was then led, handcuffed, to a patrol car. Initially charged with resisting arrest, the charge was dropped within hours of his arrest.
>> Related story: 'I can't breathe': Body cameras show brutal beating of black man accused of jaywalking
Cain also alleged that he was stripped naked and verbally abused at the Sacramento County Jail. According to the Bee, that portion of his federal lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount last fall.
Figueroa has since returned to patrol, but works in a different area of the city, the newspaper reported. Results of an internal investigation were never made public and the Sacramento County district attorney found it "not reasonably likely" that a jury would convict either Figueroa or Cain of a crime.
Part of the settlement Cain reached with the city is a provision that Figueroa will not work in Del Paso Heights until at least 2020 -- and until he has completed training on implicit bias.
The implicit bias training is something that all officers will receive as part of the settlement with the city, Burris said. They will also receive procedural justice training, and new recruits will have cultural immersion training in the academy.
Burris said the city will begin tracking and reporting jaywalking tickets and make changes to the department’s use-of-force policy -- a particularly hot topic since Clark’s slaying.
The department will also implement a random audit of body camera footage to ensure that officers are using the new training in the field and to check that officers’ actions match what they write up in their reports.
"Basically, it's trying to monitor a police officer's conduct after you train them," Burris told the Bee. "It's also about talking to people in a consistent way, both African Americans and whites, because we have seen in other areas that black officers and white officers talk to black people differently than they talk to whites."
Burris said city officials were receptive to what he and his client wanted to see happen, an attitude he called “refreshing.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg was supportive of the changes in a statement his office released Friday.
“Our city is fully committed to transparency and changing training, protocols and procedures to make sure these unacceptable incidents don’t occur,” Steinberg said.
The settlement was approved by the Sacramento City Council earlier this month, the Bee reported.
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