Originally published on November 30, 2014, at NationofChange.org
After reviewing the video of LAPD officers viciously beating an apprehended suspect unconscious, prosecutors decided to drop all charges against the man who recently filed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. As the defendant’s attorney announced plans to file a motion to release the footage of his arrest, prosecutors lost confidence in their ability to justify excessive police brutality.
Shortly after noon on October 16, Clinton Alford, Jr. was riding his bicycle home in South Los Angeles when a car pulled up behind him and the driver ordered him to stop. Since the man did not identify himself as a police officer, Alford continued pedaling until someone grabbed the back of his bike. Alford immediately jumped off his bike and fled.
While pursuing Alford on foot, officers used a Taser to subdue him. Without resisting, Alford fell onto the street and placed his hands behind his back. Two officers restrained Alford as a patrol car pulled up alongside them. A uniformed officer identified as Richard Garcia exited the car and began kicking Alford in the head.
Although Alford had already been placed in handcuffs, Officer Garcia allegedly used his elbows to strike the back of Alford’s head and upper body. Alford’s head bounced off the pavement after each blow. As the officers restraining Alford backed away, Garcia leaned one knee into the small of Alford’s back while placing his other knee on Alford’s neck.
Alford lost consciousness and a filling during the assault. The LAPD officers had to carry his limp body into the patrol car. That’s when the cops noticed the surveillance camera on a nearby building pointed at them. Garcia knocked on the door of the building until someone eventually opened it. The video, which has not been released to the public, ends with Garcia entering the building.
“I was just praying that they wouldn’t kill me,” recalled Alford. “I just closed my eyes and tried to hold on.”
Alford was taken to the hospital where he received stitches and a head scan. After charging him with resisting arrest and possessing rock cocaine for sale and for personal use, the LAPD released Alford of his own recognizance.
“They should have never filed it in the first place,” said Alford’s attorney Caree Harper who represented Marlene Pinnock, the homeless woman who settled for $1.5 million after her beating by CHP Officer Daniel Andrew in July had been caught on tape and uploaded online. “They filed (those charges) to cover up their unconstitutional felony battery on Mr. Alford.”
According to the officers’ attorney Gary Fullerton, the officers were attempting to locate a robbery suspect that fit Alford’s description. In a case of mistaken identity, the cops pursued and arrested the wrong man. The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
“In broad daylight, the police feel emboldened enough to do these vicious acts of violating the suspect’s rights before he has a right to get to court,” stated Harper.
On November 14, Alford filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Police Chief Charlie Beck, and the five officers involved in his arrest. The LAPD has launched an internal investigation, while the department’s independent inspector general has initiated a separate investigation. The district attorney’s office is also looking into the incident.
“This investigation is ongoing, and there is still much that needs to be done to determine the facts of this matter,” announced Chief Beck. “But let me be very clear, any officer that is found to abuse the public is not welcome in this department, and we will apply whatever legal or administrative means necessary to ensure the community’s trust without exception.”
After Harper announced plans to file a motion on December 1 to release the footage of the incident, the prosecution abandoned any remaining hope and dropped all of the charges against Alford. Because of pending investigations into the assault, Chief Beck has refused to release the video.
“I think if Chief Charlie Beck wants to be transparent, the chief will release it,” Harper said. “He has the power to do so, no matter what he says. If he wants to be transparent, he will release it.”
In light of recent events surrounding the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson and the massive arrests of hundreds of L.A. protestors this week, Chief Beck will not be releasing the video any time soon.
“I’m just happy just to see my son is alive,” declared Alford’s mother, Valerie Washington. But she added, “You almost killed my baby.”