Settlement in Police Abuse Case as City Still Deals With Unrest

(CN) – As Sacramento continues to be roiled by tension, particularly between the black community and the city police department, a civil rights lawyer announced a settlement between the city and a black man who claimed to be the victimized by excessive force.

Nandi Cain, who was beaten by Sacramento Police Officer Nicholas Figueroa after being detained for jaywalking, settled his claims against the city for $550,000 on Friday, his attorney John Burris said.

“Mr. Cain has agreed to settle his claims for $550,000, in addition to the City of Sacramento agreeing to implement several important policy changes,” Burris said. ‘This outrageous incident provided a perfect opportunity to implement new, modern policies geared towards long-term reform.”

The incident involving Cain, which was captured on video and circulated widely on the internet, took place in April of last year. In it, Cain is seen walking across the street. Figeuroa confronts Cain, who then ignores him. Figueroa orders him to get on the ground and again Cain ignores his brusque commands. Shortly after, Figueroa slams Cain to the ground, repeatedly punching him in the head before backup arrives.

“The big problem is just the nature of the stop,” Burris said in an interview on Friday. “Nandi was just minding his own business, then he winds up getting beat, put in jail and he has to hire a lawyer to get him out of it.”

Burris said one of the most important parts of the settlement is the requirement of the department to keep track of the amount of stops due to jaywalking and analyze the data.

“We want to see who is getting stopped and on what basis and see if there is a pattern consistent with one or more officer,” Burris said.

The police department will also have to undertake Implicit Bias and Procedural Justice training and audit the body camera footage to ensure police officers are implementing the training concepts.

The settlement comes at a particularly troublesome time for the Sacramento Police Department, as the community continues to grapple with the shooting death of Stephon Clark.

Clark, a 22-year-old black man, was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18 by two Sacramento police officers. Police were looking for a burglary suspect and said they thought Clark had a gun which turned out to be a cellphone.

Dispatchers told police the burglary suspect was carrying a toolbar.

Clark was shot a total of eight times, six times in the back, according to an independent medical examiner.

Sacramento has since been roiled by a series of protests, with protesters shutting down I-5 and preventing people from entering a Sacramento Kings game on March 22. Protesters also shut down a city council meeting soon after.

On March 31, activist Wanda Cleveland was struck by a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department vehicle and sent to the hospital. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones blamed paid protesters and outside agitators for the incident and attendant unrest.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his department will help investigate the shooting in an attempt to lend credibility. Clark’s family has expressed skepticism regarding the official narrative surrounding the shooting.

The two police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.

In the Nandi Cain case, the settlement stipulates that Figueroa will not be able to patrol the Del Paso Heights neighborhood, where the incident occurred, until 2020 at the earliest.

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