By Sheryl Estrada
Teen Emilio Mayfield being held on the ground by Stockton police officers. Photo from Facebook video.
Cellphone video has again exposed aggressive policing toward Black males. This time the incident occurred in Stockton, Calif., when a total of nine police officers manhandled and arrested a Black teen as a result of walking in a bus lane.
On the morning of Sept. 15, unarmed 16-year-old Emilio Mayfield was on his way to school. A police officer told Mayfield to stop walking in a bus-only lane outside of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District station.
“For safety reasons, the officer went over to tell the kid to get out of the bus lane, and the kid started using profane language, telling the officer he didn’t have to listen to him,” said Officer Joe Silva, a spokesman for the Stockton Police Department. “The kid continued to walk in the lane, so the officer went over there to legally detain him, and at that time there was a scuffle.”
Mayfield’s grandfather Reginald Duncan said his grandson told him a different version of events.
“My grandson told me that he was walking when he felt a tug, but the person who tugged him didn’t identify himself, and so Emilio kept on going,” Duncan told ABC News. “The area where this happened is a pretty bad area of Stockton, and he’s always been taught to keep it moving there. [Emilio] was then pulled back in a rough manner, and he realized that it was a police officer that tugged him. He said the cop looked very agitated and then threw him against a planter, took out his baton and started trying to move his baton in such a way that it was pushing him down and choking him.”
The cellphone video taken by bystander Edgar Avendao and posted on Facebook does not capture the initial confrontation but begins with the officer using his baton to hold down Mayfield’s legs.
Take a look at the video:
At one point during the struggle, the teen places his hands on an officer’s baton and said, “Get the [expletive] off me.” The officer continues holding the baton against Mayfield and saying “Stop resisting.”
A woman screamed: “It’s a fg kid.”
“Get off of him,” she said. “He is a kid.”
The officer hit the teen with the baton at least once. He radioed for backup; eight officers responded to the scene. Four are seen wrestling Mayfield to the ground by his wrists, while others attempted to barricade the scene off from a crowd that gathered at the bus station. He was handcuffed and arrested and led to the back of a police vehicle while sobbing.
Stockton Police said the teen was not arrested for jaywalking, but he was detained and cited for walking in the designated bus lane.
“I feel traumatized. I was beaten and slammed on the floor,” Mayfield later said.
His family has filed a complaint with the Police Department against the officers involved in the incident. Mayfield has been charged with resisting arrest and trespassing. He has to appear before a juvenile court to respond to the two citations.
On Thursday, demonstrators stood outside of the police station with signs in support of Mayfield. Following the police brutality toward Eric Garner and Freddie Gray, which were also caught on cellphone video by bystanders, protests ensued as well.
Stockton Police Department and Racial Profiling
The truth is it’s not uncommon for Black males to be treated unfairly in Stockton by police officers.
In November, USA TODAY published an analysis of FBI arrest records, which highlights racial disparity in arrest rates. In Stockton, from 2011 to 2012, 140 Black people were arrested for every 1,000 residents, a rate three-and-a-half times that of the non-Black population, 39.6.
These statics are jarring considering Blacks comprise only 12 percent of the city’s estimated population of 302,389. Forty percent of residents are Latino, 37 percent white and 21 percent Asian.
On Sept. 9, the California Senate approved The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, which will require the collection of basic information on police stops, including the race and ethnicity of the person, in order to combat racial profiling. The bill has gone back to the Assembly, where it originated, for final approval.
There was a rally in support of the bill on Sept. 8 in front of state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani’s office in downtown Stockton.
“The Police Department is making some efforts and has made some improvements,” Bobby Bivens of the Stockton branch of the NAACP said. “But we still have people being disrespected when they are being stopped or addressed by some officers.”
Silva said the department has been collecting use-of-force data for less than a year and traffic stop data for five years. The data is currently under review, which is “part of a U.S. Department of Justice initiative aimed at building trust in law enforcement.”