The Antioch Police Department is stuck defending its actions from an incident Tuesday at the Arco Gas Station after onlookers videotaped Antioch Police take a mentally ill homeless man into custody.
The incident occurred at the Arco Station on Buchanan and Contra Loma where officers were trying to take an uncooperative subject with reported mental issues into custody. Prior to police arrival, the man was reportedly dancing in the street and dodging cars.
According to Antioch Police, at the time officers arrived, they found an officer wrestling with the subject who had a magazine clip in his hand. Additional officers immediately assisted and tried to get the subject in handcuffs but the man would not cooperate. Officer’s tased the man and a K9 was eventually used.
Even then, the man was still resisting arrest and not in cuffs. After a few minutes, the subject was finally detained and officers backed off.
The sad part about this incident, is the video being blasted by news stations and social media does not show what transpired before the “record” button was clicked or the afterwards. It shows just a snap shot which from what I have seen; a subject is resisting arrest and ignoring police orders with a possibility of making its way into the street into traffic.
Prior to any sort of conclusion from the video, people must ask themselves why were police called and how did police even approach the suspect? How long was the officer wrestling with the subject before backup arrived?
Personally, over the last few years I’ve witnesses more than two-dozen people resist arrest and backup is always called. Depending on the incident, four-to-ten officers (estimates) will typically respond depending on the priority.
This is really not complicated police procedure to report to the public, unfortunately, ABC7 and KTVU decided to sensationalize a controversial topic like police brutality or cell phone rights to peak the public’s interest and apparently try to increase ratings.
ABC 7 told the public the following:
- Several witnesses say the man, who appeared to be mentally disturbed, was handcuffed while police used a Tazer on him and hit him with a baton. Then, they say, an officer released a police dog that began biting the man until he was bleeding and unrecognizable.
- The first witness continued to say, “Not his legs and his arms, his face and his head! That’s doing too much.” The first witness said, “They didn’t take no for an answer apparently because they pulled one lady out of her vehicle to get it, and she wouldn’t give it up and they were about to arrest her and finally they let her go because I believe she gave it up.”
- However, a third witness told ABC7 News he was ordered to erase his video. So he did. He said, “They were being kind of controlling, like demanding, ‘erase your phone’ and they were trying to take people’s phones away.”
- The American Civil Liberties Union says police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photos or video without a warrant.
- Antioch police told ABC7 News in a statement, “If a person is not willing to turn it over voluntarily, an officer can sometimes seize the device containing the video. The police would have to get a search warrant to retrieve the video from the device.”
- Full story http://abc7news.com/news/witnesses-upset-over-antioch-arrest-police-taking-cellphones/249975/
Meanwhile, KTVU told the public the following:
- “They tased him, batoned him, kicked him, punched him. It was a bit excessive,” explained another man.
- “Five cops were on him and they sicked the dog on him. And the dog bit his head, his face,” said one witness.
- TV news media appear to be more interested in ratings versus actual truths.
- “They had him in control, I mean, the man was sitting there crying. Like in pain, really crying, tears in his eyes, crying,” added the other witness we met.
- “Even if he was on drugs, or whatever he was doing, he wasn’t messing with nobody, he wasn’t causing any bodily damage to himself or anybody else,” a witness said.
- “His face was so bloody and it was just so red, that it looked like he literally went face first through a car windshield.”
After all the world class reporting ABC7 and KTVU supposedly do Friday, Saturday it turns out the man has a hard time grasping reality because according to his mother, he is a diagnosed schizophrenic with mental issues.
Along with being a schizophrenic, the man is suspected to have been on drugs according to sources which explains why he was immune to pain as neither a taser nor K9 helped him follow police orders to get his hands behind his back–he continued to fight police. But his schizophrenia could also explain his resisting arrest and combined with drugs, you have a man acting like “Superman”.
What is troubling is the news media put out all this information about him being beat up, gone through a windshield, dog bite to the face and head and he was unrecognizable to create a “feel sorry for the man” story while putting a black eye on the Antioch Police Department.
After all, this is a police department who are full of good people who are understaffed, overworked, tired, and dealing with poor working conditions thanks to a city who reduced staffing levels from 126 to 88 covering on average 1,500+ calls per week making them one of the busiest departments in the Bay Area, if not the country.
In an interview Saturday, the man’s face looks nothing like the injuries described in the reporting Friday–in fact, the portrayal is so false it doesn’t even look like the man was in a fight. Clearly the hyped up beating portrayed by the TV media is not true.
The witness who claims the man was bit in the face and bloodied so badly beyond recognition was mistaken. It begs the question what exactly did these witnesses by ABC7 and KTVU even see.
In fact, the staples in the head I suspect are not from a dog bite either because a dog bite is a puncture wound–this appears to be from a fall or being hit in the head with an item.
Unfortunately for the public who now believe police brutality occurred, the witnesses statements about injuries are not consistent with the information made available Saturday and video shown and the police department will have to likely defend themselves in the future.
More troubling about the reporting of this incident is the fact KTVU interviewed the man while he was smoking a joint–meaning he was under the influence of a controlled substance while giving an interview about what happened. This was poor taste and a total lack of professionalism by KTVU. Below is a screen shot.
One witness testimony presented by KTVU, is a clip where a “witness” explains drugs are apparently okay as long as no one gets hurt.
Even if he was on drugs, or whatever he was doing, he wasn’t messing with nobody, he wasn’t causing any bodily damage to himself or anybody else,” a witness said.
This is not sound judgment by KTVU basically showing a man smoking a joint to a witness explaining drugs are okay as long as the subject is not messing with anyone. Is KTVU pushing a drug agenda? Are they trying to create a sympathy vote for this homeless man?
For the record, using drugs or being under the influence in public is an H&S violation and dancing around vehicles is a danger to both the man and drivers on Contra Loma and Buchanan.
Maybe the acceptance by many in Antioch that drug use is “okay” is part of why Antioch’s crime is so high versus taking personal responsibility–but that is another topic for another day.
The bottom line here, the man says he wants to be president while smoking a joint highlights his inability to grasp reality.
As for the mother, while she should defend her son as any parent should, something is not right there either if her son is homeless and she is not caring for him when he has schizophrenia. If he is on medication, he shouldn’t be out in public anyway. Questions should be asked why she is not providing a service to her son so he is not out dancing in roadways with the potential to get hit by a car.
The family dynamics are an entire can of worms for the police to work out during the investigation.
Ultimately, at the close of the KTVU interview, you can see the man walking down the street just fine–again, showing that he was not beaten as portrayed by witnesses and tv media reports.
By the way, even with all the video shot, there were never any photographs of the man being bloody, no cuts, no scratches or even being in the hospital other than his head wound.
This is a perfect example of the news media performing a public disservice most of the time because they care about the “story” that gets ratings versus the story that gets the “truth”.
Ultimately, you have to dissect what his mom said which was he is diagnosed schizophrenic, and his trouble holding onto reality is obvious. Okay, so he does not know reality but does know reality to give a play-by-play of the police taking him into custody? It’s contradictory.
One thing that people need to pay attention to is the subject says he “almost gave up” meaning he admits whether he realizes it or not, he is resisting arrest—the media reports fail to highlights he is not in the right state of mind.
When a person is not in the right state of mind, it creates an unsafe environment for not only police officers, but for the community. If police are not firm in their response, the subject could become a danger, an officer could suffer injury or even incident bystanders could become victims. Mentally disturbed people are a public safety hazard. While force is required, it should not be deemed “excessive”, but a necessity—this is no different than a 3 year old trying to be put in their car seat kicking and screaming, now change this to a 180 pound man. Of course force is needed.
The KTVU interview then lost me with the so called interview of the self-appointed “expert” in Ralph Hernandez who claims the man was in cuffs and police continued to gang up on him–again, not true.
“From what I’ve gotten so far, the subject, he was handcuffed. Once the person is handcuffed, you can’t just gang up on the guy, beat him with your fists, kick him, hit him with your batons and also sick the dog on you.”
For starters, how does he know when the man was hand-cuffed? He doesn’t. He is guessing just like all the other witnesses off the video—again, the subject was wrestling with the officer and had his magazine clip in his hand. Quite frankly, the man is lucky he was only tased or bit by a dog, in other cities, he may have been shot.
Unfortunately for KTVU, they did not do any background of who they put on camera. Had they looked at Mr. Hernandez background, they would know he has a long history of anti-Antioch police behavior.
He did not back Measure C to hire more Antioch Police, in 2010 he called for cuts to police salary and benefits, while last year Hernandez wrote an editorial warning the public about police misconduct. You would be hard pressed in a Google Search to find Mr. Hernandez not bashing the Antioch Police Department.
One could even argue his judgment is not the best when this is the same man, who sat in Phillip Garrido’s living room and sensed nothing wrong–that made national headlines in the Jaycee Duggard case.
Bottom line, Mr. Hernandez has a history of making anti-Antioch Police statements and appears he will jump at any opportunity to speak negative about them both in a newspaper and on television.
Finally, ABC7’s Alan Wong did a major public disservice by stating cell phones were confiscated and there is something wrong with that.
For starters, when you record police activity, they have every right obtain a warrant and take data off your phone. Heck, they can even take it down to the station and get a warrant if the choose. Or, since you are a bystander recording and incident that likely does not involve you, just allow them to transfer the data and be on your way—note, police they are not allowed to delete it or ask you to delete it.
Unfortunately, the way Alan Wong covered the story was that police were ordering folks to delete video, pulled folks from vehicles and were confronting witnesses, it was slanted for ratings and created anti-police sentiment.
While it’s easy to say that occurred, there is little evidence available to show it truly occurred.
From the multiple videos taken, not one shows an officer pulling a subject out of a vehicle for a phone. Not one video shows police requesting data be deleted. Not one video shows police confiscating a phone.
It’s all witness’s testimony to dramatize an incident that really should have never made it on local news channels. In fact, how do we even know the people interviewed were on scene or involved in recordings or photos?
To be frank, Antioch Police know better than to do anything proclaimed in the news reports. I’ve personally been at shootings, assaults, and other incidents where a number of people are recording or taking photos—for the most part they ignore the cameras and focus on their job.
While police may confiscate devices when needed, what the news media left out is if a bystander records an incident, per a Supreme Court Decision, was the part that says if you use your phone to video anything, you’re required to submit it as evidence when asked by a police officer–so if you do not want to participate, do not record and certainly do not post it to YouTube or social media. Keep it in your pocket.
In fact, this website has been asked to provide photos or video for officers to look at on the spot and they take a peak and move on. It’s really not complicated nor threatening. If I say no, they can simply confiscate it and take it down to the station and with a warrant can transfer the data and return it to me. The truth is, if it doesn’t involve you or I, what is the problem?
In the end, the Antioch Police Department were portrayed as the bad guys while sympathy was created for a schizophrenic homeless man dancing around in the street was made to be the victim.
There is something backwards in the news media when a man who was ignoring police orders and putting police lives in danger is the victim when people are ultimately concerned about public safety and the safety of others.
An incident like this should never have needed more than 2-officers on scene had the subject obeyed police orders and was in a stable mental state of mind. The moment an officer’s safety is on the line, of course backup is going to be called.
One perspective gone completely ignored by the TV media was the unsafe work environment bystanders were creating for police by yelling at officers and challenging police to “go back to Sycamore”. Folks could be heard saying untrue things. Why did these people get a pass?
Shame on ABC7 and KTVU, ratings should never outweigh reality or facts. Antioch Police never crossed the line and never should be put in the position to defend themselves on an incident such as this.
If people of Antioch would change their attitude and perception of Antioch Police, maybe crime would further be reduced. Instead, rogue reporting by ABC7 and KTVU further enable folks to attack the police department and disrespect officers on duty. In fact, the poor reporting further empowers criminals to create more crime and create more havoc on the community because police are perceived as the “bad guys” while criminals are now the victims—its backwards!
Maybe instead of focusing on the police department, the news media should begin focusing on mentally ill patients walking the streets. It happens every day not only in Antioch, but in the County, across the state and the country.
Due to a lack of services available for people to get help, law enforcement everywhere is stuck trying to control people who are not always “living in reality” such as the case from Tuesday.
I encourage the community to support the Antioch Police Department in this incident because no boundaries were crossed and the news media went for emotion versus facts.
I personally find no credibility in a mentally handicapped individual on drugs versus the credibility of a dozen police looking out for the best interest of the public. In fact, I will never support an individual who is on record stating he “almost gave up” to being taken into custody by police.
Shame on the TV media for going for ratings versus the truth and putting an unnecessary black eye on law enforcement.
By Michael Burkholder