A video of a San Francisco police officer grappling with a homeless man who takes the officer to the ground and loses his pants in the process is causing some to question if the city has put too many restrictions on its officers’ ability to use force.
The Sacramento Bee newspaper obtained Facebook video from a bystander that they say shows officer Ilya Faynshteyn struggling with a homeless man who was reported to be exposing himself and generally acting belligerent on a sidewalk. In the video, the homeless man appears to get the upper hand on the cop and manages to knock the officer to the ground in a vulnerable position. Luckily for the cop, bystanders came to his rescue and it took approximately 4 or 5 men to take the suspect to the ground and get him until control.
Other officers then showed up and completed the arrest.
There is no word on what charges were filed against the homeless man.
The incident is particularly noteworthy because San Francisco recently enacted new use-of-force police guidelines that critics say unnecessarily places officers in far too much danger. Under the policy, the department is prohibited from issuing Tasers or stun guns to officers. The policy also generally prohibits officers from using their guns to fire shots at fleeing vehicles, although it can be done in certain, limited circumstances.
A police use-of-force expert who spoke to the newspaper after watching the video said the officer likely would have been justified in using deadly force in that situation, especially after falling to the ground. The expert was especially bothered that San Francisco officers do not even have to ability to use a stun gun for this type of situation — a tool the expert calls intermediate force. He blamed the political atmosphere is San Francisco and suggested there is an “overblown, over-exaggerated,” and essentially irrational fear about Tasers in the city.
The ACLU, however, disagrees, saying the “SFPD has a history of racially-biased policing and excessive use of force.” The group does not believe Tasers will saliva any problems and actually considers then lethal weapons. The ACLU would rather focus on teaching more “de-escalation techniques” and less on the use of “lethal” weapons.
[image via screengrab]