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RIO VISTA, Calif. (KCRA) — The Rio Vista Police Department launched an internal investigation after cellphone videos surfaced showing an officer body slamming 31-year-old Cherish Thomas to the ground.
Police Chief Dan Dailey said the investigation is looking into if the officer used excessive force during a traffic stop.
The incident began as a routine traffic stop along Harris Drive on Sunday evening. Officers stopped a car for suspended registration, Dailey said. They detained all four people inside the car because officers said they refused to the exit the vehicle, preventing the officers from impounding the car.
Thomas’ family said they had the proper documentation and the officers refused to review it. One of the passengers, Tyrone Clayton Jr., called his relatives to come to the scene in order to record the incident on their cellphones for transparency.
“Just being pulled over, I fear for my life every time as an African American in Rio Vista,” Clayton said.
Clayton’s stepsister, Cherish Thomas, and his stepmother, Deshaunna Payne, arrived on the scene and started recording the incident on their phones.
“I have four kids in that car,” Payne said. “I wanted to make sure they were OK.”
Dailey said Thomas and Payne obstructed the investigation. Officers said Thomas pushed one of them as Payne tried to hit the other officer. Dailey said that is when the officer tackled Thomas to the ground.
“(The) officer tackled her to the ground in order to gain control of her while his partner stepped in to take Deshaunna Payne into custody,” Dailey said in a news release.
Thomas said she did not push the officer.
“What can I do at this point? He’s a police officer. And I’m (120 pounds),” she said. “So what am I going to do? Fight him? No.”
Payne said she was not being aggressive towards the officers.
“I wasn’t trying to attack them. He slammed my baby,” she said. “I went in mother mode to protect my child.”
Thomas returned home after going to the hospital on Monday. She said the officer slammed her head into the ground. She said she has suffered from headaches, sore legs and arms since the arrest.
“I was scared. I’m not going to lie. Because at the end of the day, that’s a police officer, and they can do what they want to do,” she said.
Her family wants justice.
“I want to see the same aggressive action that he took with my child done to him. Yes, I would like to see him fired,” Payne said.
According to police, Thomas and Payne have been charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an investigation.
Dailey said the family’s videos only show a portion of the incident and he plans to release the officers’ body camera videos by the end of the week to “show the totality of this situation.”
Dailey said a third car arrived on the scene with more family members who were “confrontational and uncooperative.” He said officers had to request assistance from the Solano and Sacramento County sheriff offices to deal with the crowd.
He added that two other relatives who were detained during the traffic stop tried to escape the patrol car by kicking the door and window. They were charged with felony vandalism.
This story originally appeared on KCRA.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Investigation-underway-after-Rio-Vista-officer-13826097.php.