San Francisco police are being accused of brutality in a case that involved a bicyclist at the Valencia Gardens public housing complex in the city’s Mission Dolores neighborhood on Friday afternoon.
D’Paris Charles Williams, 20, was arrested after apparently riding his bicycle on the sidewalk at about 3:40 p.m. Friday at the complex near Rosa Parks Lane and Maxwell Court.
The arrest of Williams spurred an altercation between other people at the complex and prompted three more arrests, police said.
However, a friend of Williams, local photographer Travis Jensen, talked to people at the complex and said their stories, as well as a cellphone video taken at the scene and posted on YouTube, show that the incident was a case of police brutality.
“Clearly something not right is happening here,” Jensen said.
He said Williams, also known as DJ, was simply riding his bike on the sidewalk up to his residence in the complex when he was approached by undercover officers who said something about riding on the sidewalk, then grabbed him from behind and beat him for no apparent reason.
Jensen said witnesses at the scene said Williams suffered a broken jaw and other injuries when he was attacked by police.
He said when others joined in, it was out of concern for Williams.
“People don’t get that upset for no reason. They were upset because they were seeing DJ getting beaten,” Jensen said.
In the YouTube video of the scene, available above, a plainclothes officer wearing a brown shirt is seen charging at a witness.
“He’s sort of leading the charge on the whole incident,” Jensen said of the officer.
Jensen said he has mentored Williams, a City College of San Francisco student who has taken an interest in photography.
“He’s a good kid,” he said, adding that Williams was biking home from the “Batkid” festivities in San Francisco on Friday when the officers confronted him, and that he only had a Hostess cupcake, Capri-Sun drink and Reese’s Pieces candy in his possession.
Police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said the incident started when Williams tried to flee into a residence after plainclothes officers tried to stop him for a vehicle code violation.
He then allegedly resisted the officers, who used “reasonable force” and arrested him, Shyy said.
A hostile crowd then gathered around the officers, two of whom suffered injuries not considered life-threatening in the scrum. One person tried to hit an officer with a cane while another bit an officer, according to Shyy.
A total of four people, including Williams, were arrested, Shyy said. Williams and another person were arrested for felonies, one was arrested for a misdemeanor and the fourth was cited and released.
Williams was booked into custody on suspicion of assault and battery on an officer, felony resisting arrest, a traffic code violation and an outstanding local warrant, Shyy said.
Jensen said Williams remained in custody as of this afternoon and that his family and friends were trying to reach him.
“Nobody has heard anything,” he said.
Jensen said he and other community members are planning to hold a rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday outside the Mission Police Station to protest the officers’ actions in the case.
“We’re prepared to do whatever we need to do to shed light on this,” he said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News