Black cowboy files claim against Richmond Police for use of force

A black cowboy from Richmond is filed a claim against the city and its police department for allegedly using unnecessary force against him refuting in injuries. 

On May 5, police were in the area of MacDonald Ave. and 1st St. where they were arresting a suspect involved in a high speed chase, when 44-year-old Kwesi Guss, a 44-year-old man, was filming the arrest. He said police confronted him. 

Richmond police body camera footage was obtained and edited by Guss' attorney, John Burris and given to KTVU. 

The video shows a chaotic scene and officers pinning Guss to the ground before handcuffing him. 

According to Guss, the use of force left him with head trauma, bruised ribs and back pain. 

"He wasn't giving me any orders when he was pushing me. It was like a combat fight," Guss said of the officers' actions. "I could feel my face literally cutting on the ground."

Police arrested Guss for obstructing an officer. He was booked into jail and released after signing a promise to appear, but according to his attorney, the arrest wasn't justified.

"This is a person who was exercising their constitutional right, one to be here in the community, to exercise free speech and to exercise his rights to film the police," said Burris. "He was not interfering in any way."

Guss' complaint alleges violation of freedom of speech, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and other civil rights violations.

In a statement sent to KTVU, Richmond Police wrote:

"The incident is currently under investigation to ensure that all actions taken were consistent with department policies and procedures. we are committed to maintaining transparency throughout this process. our department takes all use of force incidents seriously."

They added that the sergeant involved, Alexander Caine, has been temporarily reassigned to an administrative role where he will not have contact with the public.

But, Burris said officers need to be held responsible for their actions.

"The reason this case is so troubling is that this was a cop who was out of control," Burris said. "In many ways a throwback to an old way of life."

It is important to note again that only a claim has been filed, not a lawsuit. Though claims do typically precede a formal lawsuit. 

Guss has still not been able to return to work because of the injuries he suffered that night.