BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An arrest was captured on camera by onlookers at an apartment complex in Bakersfield. Family tells 17 News the man is now in a coma.
Officials released officers’ body-worn camera video of the incident Tuesday evening.
The arrest took place May 5 at an apartment in the 3700 block of Q Street near Memorial Hospital. It started on the balcony, then things escalated quickly according to a neighbor.
“All these police cars came and put handcuffs on him, and everything happened fast,” neighbor Mario Rosales said. “From upstairs I saw the cops were hitting him, they had baton on him.”
Now a video of the incident is circulating online, appearing to show Bakersfield police officers using batons against the suspect, 41-year-old, Jason Crawford, when arresting him.
Nadine Escalante is a member of the Bakersfield Community Policing Team, a group that meets with BPD top brass to enable communication between the department and the people it serves.
She believes the incident is a setback.
“It breaks the bridge that we have already begun to build. It breaks it to where we have to establish it again,” said Escalante.
According to arrest records, Crawford was charged with kidnapping, domestic violence, resisting officers, and battery on peace officers. Crawford has an arrest record that goes back 20 years.
Retired BPD officer Chuck Sherman, who now teaches and trains officers on use of force, says there may be more to what the video shows.
“You’re meeting violence with violence at some sort of level,” Sherman said.
“Whether it’s pushing somebody down, or all the way to deadly force it never looks good. … Those officers have to work their way through those muddy waters from the second they get the call to the end of use of force.”
According to police, Crawford was arrested and taken to a hospital and is in stable condition. But according to images obtained by 17 News and friends of the family Crawford is in a coma.
Escalante said the recording could be key to holding the officers accountable for Crawford’s injuries.
“This is why it’s so important the community records these incidents. [The officers] didn’t realize there were people watching, and I really think that’s important for our law enforcement to understand that there are people watching all the time now,” said Escalante.
According to BPD policy, officers can use force “that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and totality of the circumstances known to or perceived by the officer at the time of the event.” Sherman said it’s a decision made quickly to protect the public.
“It’s hard just to say on any use of force just to say right or wrong.”
“We have to encompass everything that’s there, then make our decision in seconds that’s where the difficulty comes from,” said Sherman.
Yet, Escalante said these officers need to be held accountable and that starts with placing them on paid leave.
“That would give the community a sense of peace and a sense of true accountability by the department and by the city of Bakersfield,” Escalante said.
The Bakersfield Police Department released officer body-worn camera video of the incident after this story aired on 17 News. The incident is under investigation and the officers involved remain on full duty.
Police identified the names of the officers involved in the arrest Wednesday: Officer Neal McDonald, Officer Heather Lugo, Officer Angelika Kroeger, and Officer Victor Coronado.