A Sacramento officer, attempting to stop a man for jaywalking in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood, was caught on video tackling the man after he refused to obey the officer's commands. This police dashcam video contains language viewers may find offensive. Sacramento Police Department
A Sacramento officer, attempting to stop a man for jaywalking in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood, was caught on video tackling the man after he refused to obey the officer's commands. This police dashcam video contains language viewers may find offensive. Sacramento Police Department

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Sacramento man punched by police officer hires lawyer, prepares lawsuit

By Anita Chabria

achabria@sacbee.com

April 19, 2017 01:50 PM

A man who was punched repeatedly by a Sacramento police officer after an alleged jaywalking stop has hired a prominent civil rights attorney and will likely sue the city for injuries that include a broken nose and concussion.

Attorney John Burris said Wednesday he had been retained by Nandi Cain, a Del Paso Heights resident who garnered national headlines after an April 10 altercation with a police officer.

Burris recently represented the father of Joseph Mann, a mentally ill black man shot dead by Sacramento police last July on Del Paso Boulevard, settling this year with the city for $719,000. He also has been retained by the family of John Hernandez, a 34-year-old who suffered severe brain damage after a confrontation with officers last month.

Burris said his office has prepared a claim against the city of Sacramento on behalf of Cain and expects to file it this week, with a lawsuit potentially following in a few weeks.

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The lawsuit will likely not specify the financial compensation Cain is seeking, Burris said.

“I don’t like to do that because it gives the wrong emphasis,” said Burris. “What I am more concerned about is the conduct of the officer ... The police officer could have avoided this entire event by exercising some professionalism and using some communication skills.”

Cain, 24, was walking home from work April 10 when a police officer stopped him after he crossed the street at Grand Avenue and Cypress Street in Del Paso Heights at about 5 p.m.

After a verbal altercation, the officer threw Cain to the ground and punched him in the face multiple times before arresting him. The incident was caught on video by a bystander and quickly went viral.

The Police Department reacted quickly to community concerns. Within 24 hours, police dropped charges against Cain, released in-car camera footage, and suspended the officer with pay pending criminal and internal investigations. The department has not identified the officer.

Burris’ office said Cain sustained multiple injuries during the encounter.

A Bee investigation found that African Americans were cited last year for jaywalking in Sacramento at a rate five times higher than other people. In 2016, nearly half of jaywalking tickets in the city went to black people, who make up about 13 percent of the city’s population.

The Sacramento Police Department said this week that a disproportionate number of jaywalking citations occurred near Del Paso Boulevard because it began a state-funded enforcement campaign to improve pedestrian safety.

City Attorney James Sanchez confirmed that the claim had not been filed and had no further comment.

Pedestrians who regularly cross the busy intersection at Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way described what they usually see in the area. The intersection was the most heavily ticketed location by Sacramento Police Department officers last year. Nashelly ChavezThe Sacramento Bee

Anita Chabria: 916-321-1049, @chabriaa