Pittsburg police release body cam video of controversial arrest

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Pittsburg police late Thursday night released body camera video of a violent arrest over the weekend, saying on the department’s Facebook page that the agency made it public to show all of the actions police took before they hit the suspect.

Police were also responding to a citizen cell phone video that was circulating on social media showing an officer throwing a suspect down on the ground and punching him several times on Sept. 15. 

VIDEO: Controversial arrest of man in Pittsburg

Police said the citizen video doesn't show the whole story.

Police say they received a call about a man possibly stealing gasoline from cars on Power Avenue.

According to police, the first officer approached the man matching the suspect description who was wearing a large jacket and appeared to conceal something in his pocket. "Oddly, he was wearing a baggy jacket in the middle of a warm day," police said.

In the body cam video, the officer is seen asking the man to drop what was in his hand. He also asks the man to remove his hands from his pockets. He asks to see if the man has any gas cans on him and if he could peek inside his backpack. The man takes off the pack and hands it to the officer.

The officer calls the man “bro” and “dude.” 

Police say the man removed a crowbar from his sleeve. In the video, the man does not drop what is in his hands, but he also does not approach the police, the video shows. The man opens his hands wide and says to the officer, "shoot me, shoot me."  

A second officer arrived and the man threw the crowbar on the ground but refused to comply with officers’ orders and resisted officers when they tried to handcuff him. One officer starts shouting, "Give me your f--ing hands" and "stop resisting." 

The officers take the suspect to the ground and deliver what Pittsburg police call “distraction blows” – both open and closed hand punches to distract him and bring his arms behind his back for handcuffs.
The result left the man bleeding from his face, and blood falling on the sidewalk. Police say the suspect was not handcuffed while officers punched him.

Police say an internal investigation found the officers’ use of force was reasonable in this case.

The man received medical treatment for face lacerations.

He was arrested for resisting arrest and violating terms of his probation. Police did not identify him. 

The gas theft investigation is still on-going, though. 

KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.