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Pittsburg police release body-cam video of violent arrest

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Responding to a viral cell-phone video showing a Pittsburg police officer throwing a man to the ground and punching him repeatedly last weekend, police on Thursday released body-cam video to show the officers’ point of view.

The department addressed the video on social media, posting on its Twitter and Facebook pages.

“We are aware of a video circulating on social media that shows disturbing cellphone video of Pittsburg Police Officers making an arrest,” the post states. “Some who’ve viewed the video mistakenly believe the suspect was handcuffed – but he was not.

“Several citizens have brought this video, which has limited audio and was taken from a distance, to our attention,” the post continued. “It is important to note that often a single video does not tell the full story.”

The incident took place Saturday when police received a call about a man walking along Power Avenue holding a cup of gasoline, possibly stealing gas from parked cars. Police say an officer arrived on the scene and approached a 31-year-old man matching the suspect’s description and who appeared to be concealing something in the pocket of his large puffy jacket.

The man’s name has not been released, but police said he has had previous contact with Pittsburg officers.

In the body-cam video, the officer is seen asking the man to drop whatever is in his hand and to keep his hands out of his pockets. He asks if the man has been stealing gas and if the officer could check to see what’s in the man’s backpack. The man takes off the pack and hands it to the officer but then slides a crowbar out from his sleeve and refuses to drop it, spreading his arms wide and saying, “shoot me, shoot me.”

The officer backs up and pulls out his weapon, continuing to tell the man to drop the crowbar, shouting “Drop it, dude, just f—ing drop it!” When a second officer arrives, the man throws the crowbar on the ground, but refuses to comply with officers’ multiple commands to get on the ground.

That’s when the officers take the man to the ground in a scuffle, shouting, “Dude, stop resisting!” They then deliver punches in a technique police call “distraction blows” meant to get a suspect to bring his hands back for cuffing. Police say he was not cuffed when the punches were thrown.

The man received cuts to his face and later received medical treatment, police said. He was arrested for resisting arrest and for probation violations.

“Officers do believe he is the man who stole the gas, but the theft investigation is still ongoing,” the department’s post said. An internal investigation was launched to determine if the use of force was appropriate, police said.

The body-cam footage is available online at https://youtu.be/uUbmf4VbnfE.

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