PASADENA — Please attribute the following statement to Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with ACLU SoCal, in regard to recently released videos of the Pasadena Police Department's stop, arrest and beating of Christopher Ballew, 21, at an Altadena gas station on November 9, 2017:
"The violent beating of Christopher Ballew by Pasadena police officers is yet another example of how law enforcement in precincts across the country over-aggressively police youth of color.
The officers' actions here — including grabbing Ballew by the arm, forcing him against his car, punching him repeatedly, hitting his head on the pavement, striking him repeatedly with a baton, and brandishing a gun at him — unnecessarily and unreasonably escalated a simple traffic stop. The officers used unlawful and excessive force prohibited by the Constitution and state law, breaking Ballew's leg when he posed no threat to them or anyone else.
Given the clear video evidence and the lack of any legal basis for the officers’ actions, the ACLU SoCal calls on District Attorney Jackie Lacey to criminally prosecute the officers involved in the beating of Ballew. The Pasadena Police Department should not only hold the officers accountable for using far greater force than necessary in this case, but should examine whether its use-of-force policies and training adequately protect residents from the kind of police violence that officers used against Ballew. While the department's use-of-force policy requires officers to use only that force that 'reasonably appears necessary,' it does not require officers to use non-violent means of interaction with individuals who pose no threat to them and does not require violent force only as a last resort.
The ACLU SoCal commends efforts by the Pasadena branch of the NAACP, the Altadena/Pasadena LULAC Council, and other groups to hold the Pasadena Police Department accountable. We call for the City of Pasadena and the police department to work with community leaders to develop policies and guidelines for officers that require de-escalation and mutual respect between community and police, rather than relying on force. City leaders must also be honest about continued racial inequities in policing, and work with community stakeholders to end aggressive and racially unjust policing of the city's Black and Latino communities."