FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Newly released body camera footage shows officers arresting 60-year-old Lewis Brown, back in February.
Police said Brown, who is homeless, was camping illegally. But his attorney said that’s not the case and the officers should have given more verbal commands instead of using physical force.
“In my opinion, yes we are seeing excessive force,” Kevin Little said.
At one point Brown is on the ground, and is heard telling officers he cannot breathe.
According a statement from the police department, officers were responding to illegal homeless camping on city property:
“While the officers were attempting to clear the area, they received resistance from Lewis Dwayne Brown. He was asked to leave after explaining the regulations, where he refused, and encouraged others to do the same. While attempting to arrest brown for illegal camping he physically resisted officers.”
But Little said his client had not committed any crime.
“There are federal decisions that say that officers cannot require homeless people to vacate public property such as this, when the city has inadequate shelter space, which Fresno does,” he said.
Brown was arrested for illegal lodging, trespassing, resisting arrest and possession of methamphetamine.
Little is now defending him on those charges, and said they will seek civil redress for him and on behalf of the entire homeless community.
“This is a regular occurrence that the homeless are terrorized. They’re arrested, they have their property destroyed, they’re arbitrarily told they can and then can’t stay in certain places,” Little said.
Fresno police said the incident was thoroughly investigated by their Internal Affairs Bureau.
The case will go to trail Nov. 30.