CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - Community members gathered outside Carlsbad Police Department on Friday, demanding change following a controversial encounter last week between an African American man and Carlsbad officers.
“There was zero attempt for de-escalation,” said Yusef Miller with North County Civil Liberties Coalition. “We're asking that all citizens stand with us in solidarity to fight this police brutality," another activist told reporters.
The Carlsbad Police Department previously released video which juxtaposed three camera angles of the confrontation with the Marcel Cox-Harshaw -- two from officer body cameras and one from a witness. The footage can be viewed here.
The witness' phone shows officers using a Taser on Harshaw and pressing his head into the pavement. The two other videos from police body cameras show officers meeting medics who were called out to a report of a man face down on the side walk. Police say that while medics were evaluating him, he became agitated, yelled profanities and began walking quickly toward them.
The department says that officers feared for the medics' safety, so they reached out and told him to stop, but he continued to yell as they tried to cuff him.
Officers report that they then used a Taser to try to subdue him after he continued to yell, struggle, turn and pull away.
Police report that they then restrained him by holding his head and body to the ground and asking him to calm down while cuffing him, but they say that he refused. The department goes on to say that they put a porous, breathable spit mask bag over his head to protect themselves from coming into contact with droplets from his nose and mouth.
Activists dispute the department's account of the night.
“They approached him from behind. They grabbed his wrist. They didn't introduce themselves. He wasn't harming anyone. He wasn't armed to our knowledge,” added Miller.
Harshaw was taken to the hospital and later released and then cited for resisting arrest. Police believe that drugs or alcohol may have played a role.
Police report that a number of factors were considered by officers to use force, including, in part, "The apparent immediacy and severity of the threat to officers or others - Mr. Harshaw charged unarmed fire personnel while yelling profanities."
Police also reveal that a Taser can be used, in part, when, "The subject is violent or is physically resisting. Mr. Harshaw was physically resistant and behaved aggressively toward fire personnel."
Community members are calling for reforms like a public forum for transparency on arrests, more de-escalation training, and a citizen's review board.
Police say the investigation is ongoing and ask anyone who may have seen the incident to give them a call.
On Friday, the Carlsbad Police Department sent the following to ABC10 News:
“The City of Carlsbad Police Department has been asked to comment on the North County Civil Liberties Coalition Press Conference.”
“The Police Department has previously released information about the June 11, incident. That information, including the officers’ interactions, can be found in its entirety here.”
“The Police Department understands that ongoing officer training is crucial for effective community policing. To that end and to provide additional information, here is a list of de-escalation related training that has been provided to Carlsbad Police officers.
- In December of 2015, officers received an 8-hours of Emotional Intelligence Training.
- In 2017, officers received an 8-hour Crisis Intervention Behavior Health Training.
- In 2018, Officers received a 2-hour Bias Based Policing Training and will receive the training again in the summer of 2020.
- In November or 2018, officers received a 2-hour Tactical Communications Training and will received this training again in November of 2020.
- In December of 2019 and January of 2020, officers received training about changes to the law and the use of force. This was part of AB 392.
- In December of 2019, the Police Department hosted and had officers attend the first De-Escalation Training offered by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The department assisted the District Attorney’s Office with the creation of the training curriculum.
- In 2020, the department created, with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Office, an 8-hour in-house De-Escalation Course. This training will be attended by all officers.
Additionally, here are links to three Carlsbad Police Department news articles that relate to the subject of de-escalation.
· San Diego County Police Chiefs’ and Sheriff’s Association Adopts Crisis Management and De-escalation Philosophy