Charges Reduced After Videos Surface Showing 'Out-of-Control' Police
SACRAMENTO – A homeless protestor brutalized during a controversial arrest February 20th at the 80-day long homeless protest at City Hall was released Thursday without bail after multiple felony charges of battery on a police officer were reduced to simple misdemeanors, according to the National Lawyers Guild.
Video of the Sacramento police department gang tackling Luke McCrae, and applying an unlawful chokehold – the same kind of hold that killed Eric Garner in New York and incited the Black Lives Matter movement – has gone viral. McCrae is Black, like Garner.
McCrae has been jailed since early Saturday. After video of his arrest went public Wednesday, the charges were reduced to only one felony, and Thursday they were reduced to simple misdemeanors and his new court has been set for March.
The NLG Wednesday obtained video of his arrest and released it to the news media and public:
The NLG also released a video of the same officer who used the chokehold, which clearly shows an out-of-control officer attacking a bystander recording later after the arrest. Officer Michael Edwin Frazer (Badge #423) is seen attacking a civilian videographer, knocking the camera away and then threatening her before he has to be pulled away by his superior officer.
The NLG has been monitoring the 80-day homeless protest at City Hall since it began December 8, and notes that violence by police, not protestors, has escalated. There have been more than 75 arrests since Jan. 2.
"We witnessed justice, of a sort, take place in court Thursday. A homeless man, who was brutalized by police, was released on his own recognizance, not bail, after someone in the District Attorney's office saw what we saw – that he was attacked by police, who then had the audacity to say they were injured beating him," said Cres Vellucci, a coordinator with the NLG of Sacramento.
"Over this past week, the SPD became increasingly violent. Last week, a homeless protestor holding a sign was pushed by an SPD officer and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a serious concussion. The next day, medics had to take him to the hospital again because of his worsening condition.
"The actions of the police indicate they are, at least at the homeless protest sweeps at City Hall, out-of-control," said Vellucci, who said the SPD has shown a "pattern of unlawful conduct" of harassment of the homeless protestors and their supporters.