by Emmanuel A. Otiko
Isaiah Brown, a Sacramento boy who was placed in a spit bag after he was arrested by local police, has filed a lawsuit against the city. Brown’s family has retained the legal services of the law offices of Ben Crump and Dale K. Galipo. The Brown family is seeking more than $100,000 in damages. Crump is famous for suing cities for deaths involving African Americans. He represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager who was killed by a neighborhood vigilante.
Attorney Mark Harris with Crump’s firm filed the suit today with the Sacramento City Clerk’s Office. He was accompanied by Tanya Faison of Black Lives Matter Sacramento.
According to court papers, a security officer detained Brown and accused him of panhandling. Police arrived on the scene to arrest him and accused him of spitting at them. That is when they decided to place a spit bag over his head. Pictures posted online looked like it was a plastic bag that would have restricted breathing but it was actually a spit bag.
During the arrest, police and the private security guard were accused of using excessive force and refusing to contact Brown’s parents even though he was only 12 years old. Brown’s mother, who later arrived on the scene, said the bag could have triggered an “asthma-like fit of breathing difficulties.” The private security company is also named in the lawsuit.
Writing at the time of the incident, attorney Harris reported in the Bay View: “Sacramento residents are dismayed by word that a 12-year-old child, who stands 4-feet-10-inches tall and weighs fewer than 100 pounds, was inappropriately constrained by police officers and had a bag placed over his head to ‘shut him up,’ according to witnesses on the scene during the incident. At the time this occurred, the child was pleading for officers to ‘call my mom’ and telling officers that he ‘could not breathe!’
“The young victim was born with significant upper respiratory complications and, according to his mother and grandmother, suffered from breathing difficulties particularly when anxious. It did not help the child’s respiratory condition that officers grasped his neck, placed him on the ground, handcuffed him with his hands behind his back, placed a knee in his back and forced his face into the asphalt.”
Journalist Emmanuel A. Otiko writes for California Black Media and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Bay View staff contributed to this report.