News Violent U-District Arrest Caught On Tape
posted by January 18 at 18:16 PMon
Next week, Mark Hays will begin trial for assaulting an officer during an incident in the University District last November.
Officers from an SPD’s Anti-Crime Team unit stopped Hays and Micheal Lujan on 45th and University, after the two men allegedly crossed against a traffic light in front of an unmarked police SUV. Somehow, the incident escalated—police say Hays tackled an officer who had gotten out of the car to approach the men, something witnesses contest—and Hays was left bloodied and bruised from the encounter.
In this week’s paper, I wrote that a videotape of the arrest existed, but that SPD wouldn’t hand it over.
Well, today, I got to see the tape. No thanks to SPD.
The video— from the in-car camera of a patrol car responding to the scene after the initial incident—does not show how the incident began. When the patrol car pulls up, just before 9pm, you can immediately see 2 officers pounding on Hays. The officers appear to be struggling with Hays, in order to get his hands behind his back and cuff him. Hays is face down on the pavement.
Three plainclothes officers are on Hays, while another stands over him yelling “stop resisting.” Meanwhile, one of the officers grinds Hays’ face into the cement, while another punches him four times and knees him twice. I couldn’t see where the blows were landing—because of the camera angle and the fact that the officers are on top of him—but it’s clear they’re hitting him hard. “There’s a lot of blood over there,” one officer says, pointing at the ground, after cuffing Hays. Another officer has what appears to be several large bloody patches on the sleeve of his sweatshirt.
Some of the audio is hard to make out, but someone off camera repeatedly shouts at the officers, asking for their badge numbers, while a woman yells “he didn’t do anything.”
Finally, the officers get cuffs on a dazed looking Hays, cut off his backpack, pick him up and carry him off camera.
While officers deal with Hays, Lujan stands handcuffed in front of the camera, telling someone off camera that the incident was spurred by jaywalking.
Hays’ trial begins next week. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tape isn’t admitted as evidence. Police claim Hays tackled one of the officers, and SPD may deem the officers’ actions as “reasonable force.”
The problem with the tape, is that it doesn’t capture the whole incident. Hays could have tackled an officer, but a jaywalking incident never should have escalated this far.
Again, this arrest involved officers from one of SPD’s highly trained, undercover Anti-Crime Teams, who generally handle street crime.
Anecdotally, when I’ve looked up ACT officers records, I’ve found that it’s not unusual to find complaints of excessive force on their records. I called SPD to find out if ACT vehicles also have in-car cameras. The officer I spoke with didn’t know, but said they’d find out.