US officer kicks, hits, pepper sprays homeless black man
Newly-released video footage shows a San Francisco police officer kicking and hitting a homeless black man after the officer woke him up in a bus and pushed him out of the vehicle.
The footage, which was recorded on Feb. 11 and released on Thursday, shows officer Raymond Chu waking up 36-year-old Bernard Warren who was asleep in the back of the bus at the end of the line at Cabrillo and La Playa streets near Ocean Beach.
The video then shows Chu shoving Warren, kicking him through the exit and following the man outside the bus pushing and hitting him with his baton.
The officer also deployed his pepper spray into Warren’s eye, according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
“This sort of force was totally unnecessary. It was completely over the top,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “If you find anyone sleeping on a bus, it’s reasonable to wake them up and ask [them] to leave. Sure, but is that reason to beat [someone] down?”
Warren was hospitalized with deep bruises on his legs and burns on his face from the pepper spray, according to his lawyer.
He was also held in prison for two weeks for allegedly threatening the officer and would face up to a year in jail if convicted.
A judge saw the footage and a jury will hear the case against the man on March 4.
“Fundamentally we have a situation where a man was sleeping, which is not a crime,” said Coalition on the Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach. “It started off as completely innocent. This should not be a police situation. By aggressively charging [Warren], this sends a message to the officer that his behavior was acceptable, that it’s okay to escalate non-criminal situations.”
Police brutality and the unnecessary use of heavy-handed tactics as well as the racial profiling of some minorities are prevalent across the US.
In another incident, a police officer in the US state of Florida was caught on video dragging a mentally ill woman through a courthouse hallway by the shackles on her feet.
The incident was caught on a mobile camera by attorney Bill Gelin, who was in the hallway during the incident. Witnesses and some who saw the video afterward decried the deputy’s conduct as inhumane.