The attorneys of a mentally ill homeless man want the FBI to investigate his Venice Beach arrest after cellphone footage shows a different version of events than the police report.
Samuel Calhoun Arrington, 52, is a homeless man who suffers from bipolar disorder. His attorneys say he has been repeatedly brutalized by LAPD officers for over a year now. One of these incidents was caught on video and Arrington’s lawyer, Nazareth Haysbert, said the video differs greatly from the officers’ report of the incident, for which Arrington was jailed for over one month on charges of resisting arrest.
On August 7, 2014, Arrington was sitting in a chair on the Venice boardwalk near Sunset Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, under an umbrella he had tied to a bench, KTLA reports. LAPD officers said in their report that they had told him earlier that he could not solicit donations, which he was doing by placing an open backpack near him where people who passed by could drop money, according to Buzzfeed. At the time of his arrest, officers were attempting to cite him for numerous violations that included his umbrella being the wrong size, “vending outside of a designated space,” and tampering with property that belonged to the City, among other equally small infractions.
When an unarmed Arrington refused to accept the ticket—and also began yelling about God—officers decided to arrest him. The officers are seen surrounding Arrington and taking him to the ground. It’s difficult to see what exactly the officers are doing, but Haysbert said Arrington was hog-tied, punched and tased. You can hear the taser in the video. Onlookers are heard shouting at the officers, including the woman filming who gets pretty heated, screaming, “You do not need to tase him!” One bystander can be heard calling the officers “evil.”
Warning: The video may be graphic for some viewers, and there is profanity in the language.
Haysbert said that the account of events the arresting officers provided in their report is much different from the video. In the report, Arrington is accused of lunging at an officer and grabbing for his belt. The video also shows LAPD Sgt. Skinner recording at least part of the incident on his own cellphone, but Haysbert said the report does not mention this footage as part of the collected evidence.
Haysbert said in his letter to the FBI yesterday that his client was taken to a hospital following the arrest, then booked on charges of felony resisting arrest. Arrest records show Arrington being booked on August 8, then released on September 17.
Haysbert also said that Arrington was beaten by officers on two other instances, one on January 5, 2014 and the other June 27, 2014. Arrington’s family says that his repeated run-ins with officers and police brutality have worsened his illness.
Arrington used to work for the Parks Department as a coach for children, but fell on hard times after his long-time girlfriend kicked him out of the house where they lived with his two children. Arrington’s mental illness became more severe, and he eventually lost his job and driver’s license, ultimately becoming homeless. His sister told Buzzfeed he decided to remain in L.A., despite having no immediate family there, because he enjoyed the beach and the warm weather.
Former LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, who used to work on Venice Beach, told Buzzfeed, “What was the urgency? What was the exigent circumstance that caused [the officers] to act right now? There was none. If he don’t want to sign the damn ticket today, really how big of a deal is that? Can we finesse him into cooperating and not just bully him?”
Earlier this week, LAPD Officer Richard Garcia was charged with Battery Under the Color of Authority after the arrest of a 22-year-old South L.A. man was caught by a nearby surveillance camera.