San Francisco agreed to pay $20,000 this week to a bicyclist who sued the city over police use of force during a 2013 arrest that was captured on video and widely distributed on the Internet, a city attorney’s office spokeswoman confirmed today.
D’Paris “DJ” Williams, who was 20 at the time of his Nov. 15, 2013, arrest, alleged in a federal civil rights suit that three officers severely beat him while arresting him for riding on the sidewalk, leaving his face so swollen he was unable to eat for days.
Williams was returning home at about 3:30 p.m. from the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s popular “Batkid” event, that transformed San Francisco into Gotham City for a day, when he was confronted at his front door in the Valencia Gardens public housing complex by three plainclothes police officers, according to the complaint.
The officers — identified in the complaint as Officers Gregory Skaug, Milen Banegas and Theodore Polovina — told him “come here” as he was walking into his front door, but he kept walking. Once he was inside, they told him he needed to come back outside because he was riding his bike on the sidewalk.
The man apologized for riding his bike on the sidewalk, but refused to come back outside. The officers then forcibly pulled him out of the house, threw him to the ground and punched him in the face and the back of the neck, according to the complaint.
Williams blacked out for a few seconds and then realized the officers were choking him.
He was handcuffed and taken to jail on suspicion of resisting arrest, assault and riding his bike on the sidewalk.
The officers took him to San Francisco General Hospital, where he remained handcuffed for hours as his hands became numb and stiff from pressure from the handcuffs. As he lay in the hospital bed, he could hear the officers outside laughing at him, according to the complaint.
Williams spent the next three days in jail but all charges against him were dropped pending further investigation, according to the complaint.
Portions of the incident were captured on videos that were widely shared on social media. Fights broke out between bystanders and responding officers after Williams’ arrest and protests were staged over the subsequent days.
Police said at the time that Williams had tried to flee into the home and the police use of force was reasonable.
Oakland-based civil rights attorney John Burris, who has represented clients in numerous police misconduct cases in the Bay Area, represented Williams and filed the lawsuit late last year. A settlement agreement was reached in May and the case was dismissed on Monday.
San Francisco city attorney’s spokeswoman Andrea Guzman said today that the city was able to settle the case before either side incurred significant expenses litigating it.
Scott Morris, Bay City News