Excessive force? Man claims Baytown officers wrongly assaulted him
He claims it's part of a growing problem within the police department
BAYTOWN, Texas – A man said he was wrongly arrested and badly beaten by officers from the Baytown Police Department after he pulled into a parking lot to put an address into his phone's GPS app.
Kedrick Crawford said the arrest left him with injuries to his face, right eye and hands and bruising on his chest. He had to be treated at Ben Taub Hospital.
The incident happened in a parking lot on the 6400 block of Garth Road on July 6.
On Thursday, Baytown PD released video from one officer's body-worn camera detailing the arrest and confrontation. Two officers can be seen using a Taser on Crawford while a third man pins him to the ground. Crawford can be heard screaming, asking officers, "No, sir, please don't kill me, you're killing me, sir."
"I was being choked. I had no type of oxygen. I mean, I was just bleeding ... period, and the officers themselves were telling me I was bleeding," Crawford said Thursday during a news conference.
The video starts as officers first approached Crawford.
- Crawford: How you doing?
- Officer: Good, man. You ain't got no weapons on nothing?
From there, Crawford said no. The officer asked again.
- Officer: I've been contacted because you've been here for a while and you back out, you went back over here, you backed in. Just making sure you're not drunk or something.
- Crawford: No. I was looking for something in my car.
- Officer: I want to make sure you ain't got no weapons. Can I pat you down real quick?
According to court documents, the arrest came after an officer "located several pills in individual bags consistent to narcotics distribution."
But Crawford maintains the pills were antibiotics prescribed to him after a spider bite. Moreover, his charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer has nothing to do with drug possession of any type.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who represents Crawford, inquired about the need to place Crawford in handcuffs after an officer can be heard telling Crawford he could leave at any time.
- Crawford: So, when am I free to go?
- Officer: Whenever, man.
- Crawford: Whenever?
- Officer: Yeah, put your hands behind your back. Dude, I will freaking drop you.
"The question is how can you justify doing him this after you just told him he was free to go?" Crump asked during a press conference Thursday.
Watch the full video below:
A pattern of abuse?
Crump has asked the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of police brutality within the Baytown Police Department, citing several allegations of what he called a "pattern of excessive force."
"Black people and Mexican people," Crump continued. "That pattern is clearly established, not by what we say but by what you can see."
The family of Pamela Turner, a woman shot to death by a Baytown police officer in May, echoed Crump's sentiment, alleging there was no need to assault Crawford.
"The amount of excessive force that's being used the entire time is ridiculous," said Chelsea Rubin, Turner's daughter.
Both the Texas Rangers and the Harris County District Attorney's Civil Rights Division are investigating Turner's death.
Turner's family, Crump and Crawford called on District Attorney Kim Ogg to do the same with Crawford's case.
"District Attorney Kim Ogg, we had a meeting with you, and you said that you would do the due process, that you would make sure what needs to be done is done," Rubin said.
Watch the full news conference in the video below:
Police: Investigation underway
A spokesman for the Baytown Police Department said its Internal Affairs Division is investigating the matter. As for why the alleged assault occurred, the Police Department maintains it came after Crawford resisted an officer's call to put his hands behind his back. The department also claims that investigators have tried to reach Crawford, to no avail.
"We take this and all use of force incidents very seriously and we reserve judgment until a complete and thorough investigation into the matter is completed," said Lt. Steve Dorris, Baytown Police Department, in a statement to KPRC2.
Here's the full report from Baytown police:
"At approximately 11:50 p.m. on July 6th officers were investigating a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot of a business in the 6400 block of Garth Road. As the officers approached the vehicle the driver, Kedric Crawford, immediately exited the vehicle at which time officers made contact with him. During the initial contact, Mr. Crawford provides his name and date of birth to the officers who then conduct a computer check of him. While waiting for the returns officers talk with Mr. Crawford about the reason for the contact. During that conversation, the officers ask for consent to search Crawford’s vehicle, which Crawford grants. As one of the officers searches the vehicle the other officer continues to talk with Mr. Crawford, whose demeanor changes as he becomes increasingly nervous even though officers are being polite and cordial. At one point the officer searching the vehicle locates several small pieces of a plastic bag, each of which contained several pills. Recognizing this to be consistent with narcotics packaged for sale, the searching officer then alerted the primary officer of his findings at which time the primary officer attempted to place Mr. Crawford in handcuffs. Mr. Crawford began resisting by pulling away from the officer, who was able to only get one handcuff on Mr. Crawford. Officers pressed Mr. Crawford against his vehicle to try to gain control of Mr. Crawford considering he was not complying, actively resisting and now had one handcuff on, which created a dangerous situation for the officers. A struggle ensued during which the officers took Mr. Crawford to the ground, again to attempt to gain control of him, while calling for assistance from other officers. Mr. Crawford continued to resist and fail to comply with the officers' commands. This resulted in the officers deploying their department issue Taser, which was ineffective as Mr. Crawford continued to resist and refused to comply with officers instructions, pulling his arms away from officers and refusing to place his hands behind his back so officers could handcuff him. Due to Mr. Crawford’s persistent resistance, and the fact that the Taser failed to momentarily incapacitate Mr. Crawford, one of the officers delivered a series of elbow strikes and a closed fist strikes to Mr. Crawford’s head area in an attempt to disorient him so they could get him into custody. With the help of other officers who arrived on scene, they were finally able to get Mr. Crawford into custody. Officers contacted the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and advised them of the facts of the case at which time charges of Assault on a Public Servant were accepted on Mr. Crawford. Mr. Crawford was transported to Ben Taub Hospital where he was treated for apparent facial injuries prior to being transported back to Baytown where he was booked into the Baytown Jail."
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