A black man who was thrown to the ground and punched repeatedly by a California police officer for an alleged jaywalking violation has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and county of Sacramento, claiming that he was targeted for his race.
The April 10 incident was widely publicized, after video showing the officer tackling and beating Cain went viral. A police dash cam video of the incident shows the officer, who is white, getting out of his patrol car and trying to stop a black man walking along a sidewalk in a Sacramento neighborhood.
"Come here, bud," the officer can be heard saying as he approaches the pedestrian. Cain's response is not audible, but the officer is heard replying, "I do, you were jaywalking." Cain then continues to walk on the sidewalk despite the officer behind him. "Stop right now, before I take you to the ground," the officer says.
"You pulled me over for nothing," Cain replies. The video then shows the officer tackling him to the ground. Another video, captured by Naomi Montaie, who calls Cain "nephew," shows the officer reaching for Cain's neck and tossing him onto the ground. Once on the ground, the officer can be seen delivering multiple punches to the man's face.
Cain's lawsuit, filed by California civil rights attorney John Burris, claims that the abuse continued after Cain was arrested by the officer and brought to Sacramento county jail. According to the complaint, corrections officers forcibly removed Cain's clothes and "pinned him to the floor." When Cain cried out, the lawsuit claims, he was mocked by the officers, and later left without food or medical attention.
The lawsuit also names the officer as a plaintiff, and identifies him as Anthony Figueroa. Sacramento Police Department has not identified the officer.
"I've been embarrassed and discriminated against when all I've been trying to do is go home from work," Cain told reporters Monday, according to the Associated Press. He added, "Racism is still alive, and you would think, it's 2017 that it would die, but it still exists."
He was released early the next morning and no other charges were filed against him. Police said at the time that Cain was originally arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and an outstanding warrant. He was given a court date for the outstanding warrant.
The Sacramento Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit. In an email to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the department said that he was also unable to confirm that Figueroa was the officer involved in the incident.
In a statement provided to the Associated Press Monday, a spokesperson for the Sacramento Sheriff's Department said the allegations regarding Cain's treatment in jail "will be investigated accordingly."
"I would like to reiterate that these are only allegations, and before people jump to conclusions, let the investigation speak for itself," the spokesman, Sgt. Tony Turnbull, added.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the Sacramento Police Department called the violent encounter "unacceptable conduct" and said a personnel and criminal investigation had been launched into the officer's actions. Investigative staff determined the officer did not have sufficient grounds to make the initial stop.
"The actions of the involved Sacramento Police Officer are disturbing and does not appear to be reasonable based upon the circumstances," the department said in a statement. "The actions that were observed are not indicative of the dedicated women and men who work for the Department."
Sacramento Police did not release the name of the officer involved, but described him as a two-year veteran of the department, and said he was placed on administrative leave with pay.
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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Grace Wyler is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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