Trust Is Central To Public Safety: Shasta Equal Justice Coalition Responds To Violent RPD Arrest

The local advocacy group says law enforcement should fully investigate the nature of the arrest as a whole in a process that offers full and transparent information to the public, including the names of the police officers involved.
A member of the community holds a sign during a June 2020 protest against police brutality in downtown Redding.

2.1.2023 12:06 pm: This article has been corrected to clarify that RPD has just launched a pilot body camera program.

In a statement released yesterday, the Shasta Equal Justice Coalition (SEJC), a group that supports increased equity in the Shasta County criminal justice system, said it’s “very troubled,” by a violent arrest by Redding Police Department (RPD) officers on January 23.

Community members filmed the arrest, which shows at least eight RPD officers converging on a suspect who is lying on the ground screaming. During part of the incident, an RPD officer can be seen kicking the suspect in the head.

After the video went public, RPD Chief Bill Schueller issued a press release, saying he’d placed one officer, who’d “stepped forcefully” on the head of the suspect, on paid administrative leave. The incident will be investigated both internally by RPD and externally by the Anderson Police Department.

But the SEJC, which formed after George Floyd’s murder in 2020, is calling for more, saying law enforcement should investigate the whole arrest and do so in a way that provides information transparently to the public, including the names of the officers involved.

Member organizations, supporters and allies of the SEJC include the United Way of Northern California, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the League of Women Voters, Shasta County Citizens Advocating Respect, the Beloved Community, Native Roots Network and others.

The SEJC is also calling on RPD to move as quickly as possible to fully implement body cameras for police on duty, saying the impact of the community having captured this arrest on video illustrates how such cameras allow the police’s actions to be witnessed, better understood and examined.

A pilot police body camera project that has been in the works for some time has just launched, according to recent statements by Chief Schueller. The SEJC, which has been advocating for dash and body cameras for local law enforcement for some time, said that’s a positive step and one that other Shasta County law enforcement agencies should follow.

Meanwhile, the SEJC said, it’s calling on the community to continue to monitor RPD’s investigation and watch for further responses by law enforcement leaders.

Referencing the quick response by Memphis law enforcement to the alleged murder of Tyre Nichols by the police there, the SEJC said the speed with which information in that case was disclosed to the public and used to fire, arrest, and charge police officers, sets a positive precedent for how to build trust between law enforcement and the community.

And “trust,” the SEJC wrote “. . . is a central element of public safety.”

A “peaceful community gathering” in support of police body camera use is planned for this Thursday, February 2, at 6 pm at City Hall.

Learn more about the Shasta Equal Justice Coalition here. Read the Coalition’s full statement on the January 23 arrest here.

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