NAACP, ACLU Call for Police Reforms, Demand Firings of Officers in Violent Arrest of Black Motorist

Published : Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 4:30 PM

Screenshots of a bystander 's video of the November 8, 2017 arrest of Altadenan Christopher Ballew by two Pasadena police officers.

Six local civil rights and police watchdog organizations said they will appear before the Pasadena City Council on Monday to demand the firings of two police officers and the installation of an independent police auditor in the wake of the violent November 9 arrest of a young black man during a traffic stop which left him with a bloodied face and a broken leg.

In describing the incident, Pasadena Lt. William Grisafe said Ballew had refused to comply with the officers’ orders. “A fight ensued,” Grisafe said, “and [Ballew] ran. They were able to get him into custody and he was arrested.”

Cellphone video posted to social media of the arrest of Altadenan Christopher Ballew, 21, shows Ballew pull a baton away from one officer shortly before a second officer punches Ballew then pushes Ballew’s head forcefully down into the pavement several times. The first officer retrieves the baton and strikes Ballew three times with it as Ballew lies on the ground, in the process reportedly breaking his right fibula.

The video led to a public outcry that Ballew was beaten by the officers, some calling the incident Pasadena’s “Rodney King moment.”

Videos subsequently released by the City of Pasadena, including police car dash cam and officer body camera footage of the entire incident fed a mounting wave of criticism of the officers’ actions, and was reported across the United States.

Ballew was arrested on suspicion of assault on a peace officer arising from the incident. Ultimately, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office decided not to prosecute him, citing a lack of evidence.

Ballew since retained noted local Pasadena attorney John Burton, who has filed a claim for unspecified damages against the City on Ballew’s behalf.

The City has said a review of the officers actions is underway but did not provide a timeline for its conclusion. The two officers remain on duty.

Led by the NAACP Pasadena Branch and the ACLU of Southern California, six organizations said their members on Monday will press for the firings and for broader reforms.

Among the groups’ demands are that the Council mandate independent investigations of any Pasadena police use of force resulting in injuries or death, including the Christopher Ballew incident.

The groups said they also want a review and subsequent revisions to the Pasadena Police Department’s policies on the use of force, racial- or biased-based profiling, and investigatory stops, in order to “protect residents’ civil liberties and civil rights.”

Finally, the groups said they will demand the City establish a permanent, Independent Police Auditor with subpoena power.

Organizations supporting the petitioning and demand for City Council action include the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police, Pasadenans and Altadenans Against Police Violence, ACLU of Southern California, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress, and San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance.

The City Council meets in public session at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, located at 200 North Garfield Avenue.

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