SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento Police Department released body camera video on Wednesday of the interaction between a man who was arrested for leaving his car idling and a Sacramento police officer.
The incident happened on May 4 outside of a 7-Eleven. Sacramento NAACP spokesperson Betty Williams says Craig Williams’ arrest was racially motivated, and they’re calling for an independent investigation.
“I’ve never heard of this offense being prosecuted,” said Williams’ attorney, Justin Ward, said at a press conference.
“The reason we put the video out is so that people can see for themselves what occurred,” said Sacramento Police Department Detective Eddie Macaulay.
Body camera video shows the officer approach Williams and start a conversation. He asked for Williams’ identification and started to explain city code 10.36.090, which makes it illegal to leave your car running and unattended with the key in the ignition.
“I’m trying to explain the law to you,” the officer said in the video.
“No, there is no law!” Williams replied.
“It’s a misdemeanor to leave your car running!” the officer later informed Williams.
In the video, Williams is holding his cellphone and appears to be recording his interaction with the officer, but just over one minute after the officer walked up to Williams, a physical struggle ensued.
“What are you detaining me for?” Williams cried out.
“I’m highly disappointed with the actions the officer took,” Williams said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “I still feel kind of shocked and appalled but [I’m] just getting over it.”
Four days after his release from jail, Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams said the confrontation shows a continued pattern of brutal behavior towards black men by the Sacramento Police Department.
“Chief Hahn, it’s time for you to clean house of all the bad apples that you have inherited into your department!” she said.
Ward explained that his client was in 7-Eleven buying snacks when the officer turned off Williams’ vehicle left idling outside.
“From my view of [cellphone] video, this officer was looking for conflict,” Ward said.
Then, Ward says the officer motioned for Williams to join him outside, but Det. Eddie Macaulay said Williams’ arrest came down to him not following the officer’s request.
“Just give some identification,” the officer said to Williams in the video.
“For what?” Williams replied. “I didn’t break no law! I didn’t break no law!”
“Your car was running,” the officer continued.
“I didn’t break no law!” Williams said.
“I’m trying to tell you that you broke the law,” the officer said.
“It’s very important when an officer gives a lawful order, that you comply with that order so that the contact can be safe for everybody involved,” Macaulay said.
“He went there with the intention of racial profiling and to take a black man to jail!” Betty Williams said.
Williams is from Sacramento, works as a chef at a local restaurant, and has a 19-year-old son in college. Ward says he’s still figuring out what legal action to pursue. He says if he pursues a civil suit, it would be on hold until any criminal charges are settled.
Williams is set to appear before a judge on May 22.
The Sacramento Police Department has come under nationwide scrutiny for the March 18, 2018 shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, who was shot and killed while at his grandmother’s house. On hearing reports of a man breaking into homes in the Meadowview area, police confronted shot Clark after mistaking his cellphone for a gun. Protesters have staged demonstrations and marches throughout the Sacramento area, called for criminal charges against the officers.