Man files lawsuit after being hurled to ground, punched by police officer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A lawyer for a Sacramento man hurled to the ground and punched repeatedly in the face by a police officer has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and county of Sacramento.

The lawsuit alleges Nandi Cain, 24, was also abused in jail after his arrest. It claims jail workers repeatedly kneed Cain in the ribs and used their knees to pin him down while stripping off his clothes. 

Sacramento police did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Cain was walking home April 10 when an officer told him to stop because he had jaywalked. He refused and challenged the officer to a fight. 

Video from a police dash camera showed the officer throwing Cain to the ground and punching him while he was down. 

The video, posted by Naomi Montaie, starts by showing the incident unfolding from inside a vehicle. The officer and Cain are seen standing in the middle of a residential street exchanging words. A woman inside the vehicle yells, “Nephew, just listen.” About three seconds later, the officer steps forward, grabs Cain and hurls him onto the pavement.

The car moves forward as video continues to capture the incident, showing the officer on top of Cain, punching him repeatedly. 

“Hey, hey, why you beatin’ him like that?” the woman yells.

Another officer arrives and handcuffs the man as he’s face down on the pavement. In the end, seven officers surround the man, handcuffed in the street, and eventually he’s put in the back of a police car.

Cain told CBS Sacramento that he thought he was “going to be like the next Trayvon Martin” -- referring to the African-American teenager who was shot and killed in Florida in 2012. He said that he feared for his life during the encounter, and that he was only walking home from work and did nothing wrong. 

“I thought as soon as they got me on the ground and start, you know, putting my arms in different positions, I felt like they were going to draw a gun out and shoot me in my back,” Cain said. 

cain3.png

Nandi Cain Jr., who was slammed to the ground for jaywalking by police in Sacramento, California.

CBS Sacramento

But police said Cain became combative after the officer stopped him.

“[He] actually turned toward the officer, removed his jacket and appeared to challenge the officer to fight,” said a spokesperson with the Sacramento Police Department.

Sacramento police also released a statement saying the actions of the officer were disturbing, and do not appear to be reasonable based on the circumstances, CBS Sacramento reported. The officer was placed on administrative leave.

As for Cain, he was cleared of any charges and has been given a court date for an outstanding warrant in Fresno, California, according to police.