SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The San Jose police department released a cache of body-worn camera (BWC) footage from three different incidents during recent protests showing officers clashing with protesters. The protests came together after footage spread online of police in Minneapolis, Minn. killing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while detaining him during an arrest.
The three incidents, all related to the George Floyd protests held back in May, involve officers whose actions are somewhat controversial. When announcing the release of the footage, the department insisted that it was to provide more transparency in their investigations.
“We hope releasing these videos will provide the public more clarity into each of these incidents,” San Jose police chief Edgardo Garcia. “Each video is only one piece of information used to fully understand a complex event. Some opinions and conclusions may be affected after watching certain videos; others will not.”
Garcia said the decision to release the footage came after coordination with the city manager and mayor. Before this, the department only released BWC footage as required by state law.
“Too often what we’re seeing on social media is that five-second clip which of course shows the worst possible view of an officer’s interaction with an individual,” said mayor Sam Liccardo. “When we have an incident of significant public concern like this we want to get video out into the public quickly.”
The first video released related to a nighttime protest on May 31 in San Jose’s downtown. Police said they received reports of possible looting and burglary at a branch of the Bank of America there.
Officers arrived on scene to find multiple suspects attempting to remove plywood on the windows of the bank and break in, according to the report. One suspect fled on foot as officers attempted to detain the group.
Pursuing motorcycle officers struck the fleeing suspect with a foam baton but he kept running. He later turned into oncoming traffic, where he collided with a police motorcycle.
“He ran directly into the path of a motorcycle, the Officer attempted emergency braking but was not able to stop his motorcycle from colliding with the suspect,” the report states.
After officers took him into custody, the suspect requested medical attention but later refused.
“It’s possible the officer didn’t have the time to react to avoid hitting the person,” said retired Oakland police chief Howard Jordan, who is a KPIX law-enforcement analyst.
The second video comes from an earlier protest on the afternoon of May 29. Police reported that the hundreds of protesters were throwing “numerous objects” in an “assaultive manner.”
The incident in question came after police ordered the protesters to disperse. Officers lined up in order to control the crowd and one protester approached the police line, only to be pushed back by one of the officers, who used a baton. A confrontation ensued, with the protestor reportedly attempting to reach for the officer’s baton before being subdued.
“The subject then began to swing wildly at the Officer with his arms in a striking motion. The physical confrontation continued until the subject was wrestled to the ground and was eventually subdued and placed into handcuffs,” the statement read. “The subject sustained injuries as a result of the confrontation and was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.”
“I don’t expect any officer to submit to that,” Jordan told KPIX.
The third video is connected to the same protest on May 29. This video shows officers from the force’s Special Operations Division identifying a protester that had thrown a bottle at another police officer. The special agents can be heard formulating a plan to arrest and charge the protester and one uses “using offensive and unacceptable language during the protest,” according to the report.
“From a law enforcement profession, it’s never OK to use profanity under any circumstances,” Jordan said but he believes the videos do provide the public a different perspective.
“Police, their job is to balance people’s First Amendment rights and to also protect life and property. I think they should step back and see where there can be improvements on both sides,” Jordan said.
The police stated they plan to release more BWC in the future in order to increase transparency with their operations.
“Coming up with a process of releasing videos of significant public interest is the right thing to do and we are eager to have that in place soon,” Chief Garcia said. “Releasing these three videos is a positive step in that direction.”
On Tuesday, city council members will discuss passing a policy on releasing body camera video of “extraordinary public interest” before a council vote or an investigation is concluded.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. KPIX correspondent Maria Medina contributed to this report