Sacramento Settles Police Beating Lawsuit, Promises Reforms

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Nandi Cain, John Burris
Nandi Cain, left, listens along with his attorney, John Burris, right, to a reporters question concerning the alleged beating he received from a Sacramento Police officer during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California’s  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento has agreed to reform its policing practices and pay a black man $550,000 after an officer threw him to the ground over a jaywalking allegation last year and repeatedly punched him in the face, his lawyers said Friday.

The settlement in a U.S. civil rights lawsuit comes as the Police Department in California’s capital city has faced intense scrutiny and a series of protests after two officers fatally shot Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man, in his grandmother’s backyard last month.

Police Chief Daniel Hahn, who took over the department after Nandi Cain’s beating was captured on video a year ago, has promised to review the department’s use-of-force policies following Clark’s death.

The city agreed to update those policies as part of Cain’s settlement, said his attorney, John Burris.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office would not confirm whether Sacramento agreed to changing use-of-force policies for officers or other the details of the settlement until both sides have signed it. Police deferred comment to the city.

“Our city is fully committed to transparency and changing training, protocols and procedures to make sure these unacceptable incidents don’t occur,” the mayor said in a statement Friday.

Cain, whose lawyers say he has signed the deal and plan to send it to the city soon, alleged that he was targeted because of his race when an officer pulled over and accused him of jaywalking on a residential street. Cain said Officer Anthony Figueroa threw him down when he argued.

Video of the confrontation filmed by a bystander was widely viewed online and generated outrage across the U.S.

That video and footage from a police cruiser dashboard camera show Cain complaining that Figueroa was stopping him “for nothing” and saying, “If you were a real man, you would take your gun away and fight me like a real man.”

Cain suffered a broken nose and a concussion, said Burris, who has contested allegations that Cain was jaywalking. The settlement is aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future, the attorney said.

“If there’s a commitment to it, which certainly there seems to be with this present command staff, I think it can have a very positive impact in reducing the negative contact between the community and the police,” he said.

In the settlement, Sacramento agreed not to assign Figueroa to the neighborhood where the beating occurred through at least 2019, Burris said.

The city also agreed to compare police reports and body camera footage for accuracy, as well as track jaywalking citations and post that information publicly for three years, Cain’s attorneys said.

Collecting data will ensure police are complying and help shed light on problematic trends, Burris said.

The city said it would implement implicit bias and cultural immersion training, Cain’s attorneys said.

Cain’s lawsuit also alleged he was abused in jail. He settled that part of the suit with Sacramento County, which runs the jails, for $40,000 last fall, according to the written agreement the county provided to The Associated Press. The county did not admit liability.

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