Videos disprove claims of police violence after Hemet car theft arrest
HEMET, Calif. — Following the arrest of a parolee who was found driving a stolen vehicle in Hemet Tuesday, morning, Oct 13, allegations have surfaced that Hemet police officers were seen using excessive force and beating the handcuffed man while making the arrest.
Although several people claimed to have witnessed what one woman described as the “brutal and unnecessarily violent” arrest, video filmed and photos taken at the scene and shared to social media quickly disproved those allegations.
Additionally, body-worn camera footage from several of the involved officers “clearly showed” that officers remained calm throughout the incident and that “minimal force was used” during the man’s arrest, according to Hemet Police Lt. Eric Dickson, who this morning discussed yesterday’s incident with RCNS.
LEADING THE RCNS SOCAL HEADLINES:
The incident that led to the allegations of police brutality began around 9:30 a.m., when Hemet police officers spotted a black Mercedes-Benz sedan that had been reported stolen.
Seeing the vehicle was occupied by two men, several additional officers responded and conducted a high-risk felony stop on Florida Ave., east of Lyon Ave.
Several Hemet PD officers assisted during the arrest of Shaundale Booker, 36, of Moreno Valley, after he was spotted driving a stolen Mercedes-Benz. Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents photo
Officers with guns drawn detained both the driver and his passenger – both of whom are Black – handcuffing them and placing them into separate patrol vehicles without incident, according to local community reporter Robert Carter, of Facebook’s Public Safety Incidents, who filmed and documented the incident and driver’s arrest.
The driver has since been identified as Shaundale Booker, 36, of Moreno Valley, according to Dickson; who said the second man detained during the traffic stop, whose name was not immediately available, was released from the scene without charges.
While discussing yesterday’s incident, Dickson explained that after Booker’s initial arrest, “which occurred without incident”, officers went to move the handcuffed man from the back of a patrol pickup truck where he had originally been placed, “so they could move him to another larger and more comfortable patrol SUV” to be transported to jail.
That was when Booker’s demeanor reportedly changed.
“When the officers went to open the door it looked like (Booker) kicked the door and then started kicking at one of the officers at the scene,” Carter later described, adding, “He just started yelling and screaming for no reason, all while officers were just trying to move him to another vehicle.”
Based on the body camera footage captured by several of his officers at the scene, Dickson confirmed Carter’s account, saying, “As officers opened the door of the vehicle, the suspect kicked the door, causing it to fly open and strike one of our detectives.”
“He then began kicking the detective and thrashing around, causing the detective to stumble backward into the lanes of oncoming traffic,” Dickson described, adding, “By doing so, the suspect placed the detective’s life in danger of being struck by oncoming vehicles.”
The detective was uninjured, according to Dickson.
Booker, who became combative and irrational while being moved from one patrol vehicle to another, was seen screaming incoherently, thrashing around, and yelling for help, after kicking a door into a detective and then repeatedly kicking at arresting officers. Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents photo
In video filmed by Carter while Booker continued screaming for help and thrashing around, one officer can be heard warning Booker “You’re gonna be tased” if he didn’t stop resisting, while a sergeant at the scene can be heard calmly and repeatedly ordering him, “Get in the car dude, just get in the car.”
“At one point one of our officers was forced to use an electronic control device trying to gain Booker’s compliance,” Dickson explained; saying the Taser deployment proved ineffective and Booker continued to struggle with officers while refusing to be moved to the second patrol vehicle.
As Booker continued struggling, the sergeant can again be heard saying, “We don’t want to hurt you dude, just get in the car”, followed by, “We’re not trying to hurt you, just get in the car.”
Later the sergeant can be heard continuing to try to calm Booker, saying, “Stop dude, just stop. Were just trying to get you into the car.”
“You need to stop and just go along with the program,” the sergeant continued; at which time Booker momentarily calmed down, according to Carter.
In addition to Carter’s description of how the incident occurred, a man who asked to only be identified as “Landlord Larry” later told RCNS, “The guy just suddenly became uncooperative and started screaming incoherently and flailing around.”
“He was acting like he was being beaten or abused by the arresting officers,” the witness described; adding, “But nothing of the sort happened.”
LEADING THE RCNS/SCNS STATE HEADLINES:
Although some later claimed online to have witnessed the arrest and said they saw officers beating the suspect as he lay handcuffed and screaming for help on the ground, Carter’s video showed officers remained calm throughout the incident while trying to coax the screaming and struggling man into the other patrol vehicle.
“Other than the Taser, the officers didn’t use any violence while arresting the guy,” Carter described; adding, “I didn’t see officers use any kind of excessive force at all while taking him into custody.”
“He made the arrest very challenging, and unnecessarily so, since he was already in custody,” Dickson explained.
Although some who claimed to have witnessed what they described as the “brutal and unnecessarily violent” arrest and made allegations of police brutality, video filmed and photos taken at scene and shared to social media by a community reporter, along with the officer’s own body-worn cameras quickly disproved those allegations. Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents photo
Because officers suspected Booker was possibly under the influence of drugs and due to the Taser deployment, Booker was transported to an area hospital for a medical clearance required for booking. Once at the hospital Booker continued acting bizarrely according to Dickson and other witnesses who later spoke with RCNS about the incident.
Over the next several hours, Booker “continued yelling and kicking, trying to get our officers to shoot him, basically saying he wanted to do a suicide by cop,” Dickson described; adding that officers later reported that Booker was seen repeatedly ramming his head head into one of the walls in the area where he was being held while awaiting his evaluation.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a nurse who was working at the hospital where Booker was taken for a medical clearance later described that throughout the process, Booker “never stopped yelling and shouting obscenities at anyone and everyone who walked by. He was definitely on something.”
“He was out of control, just acting wild and making no sense at all,” the nurse described; adding that the officers remained “calm and professional” throughout the hours-long process.
She also said Booker “kept hitting his own head against one of the walls” while waiting to be evaluated.
LEADING THE SCNS NORTH STATE HEADLINES:
After being medically cleared, Booker was transported to Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, where he was booked into jail on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting arrest with violence, and violation of state parole.
According to Dickson, Booker is also facing additional felony charges from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department from an unrelated case and investigation. However, he had no information related to that case or those pending charges, which Dickson said were expected to be added sometime today.
Online jail records indicate Booker remains in custody without bail and is scheduled to be seen at an unspecified court tomorrow, Oct. 15.
Contacted for more information, none of those who made the allegations of police brutality were willing to discuss the incident or their claims of abuse or police brutality; other than one who said, “The cop’s body cams will show what really happened. Then the truth will come out.”
“Having watched the body-worn camera footage and other videos, I believe the officers handled the situation professionally and appropriately,” Dickson said in response to the allegations; adding that nothing he saw in those videos caused him any concern about the suspect’s arrest.
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Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents photos above, video below.
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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.