SF Settles With Biking Dad Choked by Police

     (CN) – A man who claimed police choked him unconscious for riding a bicycle with his baby in a baby carrier – but without a helmet – stands to receive a $25,000 settlement.
     Takuro Hashitaka sued four San Francisco police officers, Police Chief Greg Suhr, and the city and county of San Francisco in Federal Court in 2014.
     Hashitaka claimed he was biking to a grocery story with his 10-month-old son, Moku, when police officers Anthony Bautista and Brendan Caraway drove into the bike lane and almost hit them.
     The man gave the officers an “annoyed” look, he claimed, upon which they returned and asked why his baby, seated against his chest in a “Baby Bjorn” carrier, wasn’t wearing a bike helmet.
     Hashitaka was allegedly not familiar with a helmet law for babies and asked for an explanation.
     “Caraway responded that he didn’t have to explain anything,” the complaint stated.
     Then the situation escalated.
     The officers turned on their flashing lights, “got out and immediately grabbed Takuro’s wrists, telling him that he was going to be arrested and that Child Protective Services would take Moku,” the complaint said. “They never tried to explain what was going on, never asked Takuro to lift Moku out of the baby carrier, and never asked if there was another parent nearby who could take Moku.”
     Several other officers, including Sgt. Robert Imbellino, took Hashitaka to the ground, and Caraway choked him until he was unconscious, according to the complaint.
     The man recovered, but says he was choked two more times as Bautista and Peralta took turns cutting a crying Moku out of his carrier instead of “unsnapping it and lifting the baby out.”
     Hashitaka was handcuffed and hobbled as he begged the officers to call his wife, who was only a block away.
     Family & Children’s Service called Hashitaka’s wife, Jessica, two hours later and told her that, “the police had said her husband was drunk and had hit a police car on his bike,” the complaint stated.
     The agency ultimately determined that the complaint of child neglect was unfounded and returned Moku to his parents, Hashitaka said.
     “In her report, the CPS worker described Moku as a beautiful, healthy, clean and well-groomed baby boy, and both parents as loving and caring toward him,” Hashitaka added. “Family & Children’s Services did not find defendants’ allegations to constitute child abuse or neglect.”
     Hashitaka, who suffered neck and hand injuries, spent the night in jail but was never charged with a crime.
     He claimed his arrest was brutal and unjustified, and that the “forceful” removal of his child caused him emotional distress and anxiety.
     Hashitaka settled the lawsuit for $25,000, attorney Rachel Lederman said. The settlement must still be approved, but U.S. District Judge James Donato dismissed the lawsuit last week.
     “My clients and I are pleased that the Hashitaka family will be compensated for their ordeal, and particularly hope that this case will help get SFPD to consistently comply with its Children of Arrestees policy,” Lederman said.
     SFPD does not comment on any lawsuit or pending litigation, public information officer Albie Esparza said.
     The department’s Children Of Arrested Parents policy aims to “minimize unnecessary trauma to the children of an arrestee.”
     Specifically, the policy requires officers to attempt to make an arrest away from children or at a time when children are not present.
     If children are present, officers are to determine whether a non-arrested parent, adult relative or other adult is willing to take responsibility for the children.

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