Following the public outrage at the recent death of another mentally ill man in police custody, Pasadena police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators have recently released a surveillance video depicting his arrest. Although his family had initially requested help from the police, they have accused the responding officers of using excessive force against a man suffering from bipolar disorder.
At 2:35 a.m. on Friday, Pasadena police had received two phone calls from family members of Reginald “J.R.” Thomas, who was acting erratically while refusing to leave their residence. The 911 dispatcher was told that Thomas had been carrying a knife under his armpit but had not threatened anyone inside the apartment.
Newly released surveillance video from inside the apartment complex shows Thomas standing near the doorway when Pasadena police officers approach him. According to the grainy footage, the officers appear to fire a Taser at Thomas before striking him on the ground. Instead of depicting the entire beating, the video abruptly skips forward as officers escort Thomas’ family members out of the apartment.
In a recent press release, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez wrote, “The suspect did not comply with officers orders as the suspect attempted to re-enter the apartment at the location. Pasadena officers deployed a Taser in an effort to disarm the suspect and a fight ensued. The suspect was ultimately subdued by police.
“Upon restraining the suspect, the officers observed him not breathing at which time CPR and life saving measures were implemented. The officers continued CPR until the arrival of Pasadena Fire Paramedics who continued to render aid. Despite the efforts of officers and paramedics the suspect died at the scene.”
But according to Thomas’ girlfriend, Shainie Lindsay, who witnessed the violent arrest, Pasadena police officers utilized excessive force when subduing Thomas.
“They was wrestling with him, was kicking him in the head and beating him with the baton stick,” Lindsay told KTLA. “Then, after that, they was doing CPR and then he was dead.”
“Physical force was used to restrain and take the individual into custody,” confirmed Capt. Steven Katz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau. “He was handcuffed, and at some point his ankles were restrained with a restraint device.”
“They knew he was disabled, they knew he was bipolar, they knew he was on social security, and they still killed him,” Lindsay told NBC4. “And that was it, and they told us to get out.”
None of the six responding Pasadena police officers were wearing body cameras during the incident. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and sheriff’s investigators have launched separate investigations into Thomas’ death.
A cause of death still remains undetermined.