A man hiding from the police, in his house, voluntarily surrendered to the Fresno Police Department after a two hour standoff On Monday evening, I was headed to a card room for a session of poker when I saw the familiar cherries and berries of law enforcement and made my way to the scene. When I arrived, it was abundantly clear the police were about to enter the domicile and remove the suspect by force, if necessary. However, their plans changed when they became aware that I had arrived with my camera.
A large crowd gathered, as the police shouted at a house for a man to surrender himself, and watched as they handled the delicate situation. Many were upset at what the police were doing. Others, just wanted to see someone get hurt. As time passed, the police interacted with the crowd and extended their perimeter. During one such encounter, a cop asked me if I had taken care of my warrant. He already knew that I had and admitted to running my name prior to asking the question. He then reminded me to be respectful when talking to the crowd about law enforcement. I wonder if he runs all of his friends for warrants when he sees them, or if he only checks for active warrants on those who voice opinions that are contrary of the police? Whatever the answer, the irony of him telling me to be respectful while simultaneously looking for any minor reason to drag me to a cage was not lost on me.
After a while, a couple of people left the house and were detained by the police. If you are in one of these situations you should never leave the house. If the police have a warrant they will enter the house. The fact that they maintained a perimeter on the residence and never entered tells me not only that these cops did not have a warrant, but also that they were unsuccessful in retaining one.
The police immediately set about using the suspect’s family against him and put his mother on the phone as soon as they were able to establish a line of communication. She was obviously upset due to the situation and the officer in charge of the conversation promised to be there when the man surrendered. During the call, the officer kept telling her son, the man inside, that if he came out in ten minutes they would be able to help him. The police are allowed to lie to you and these baseless promises are just tools to get you to surrender yourself to their custody.
As time progressed, it became clear the police were going to wait until dark when the limited light would make the cameras less effective and their actions would be disguised by the darkness. This type of behavior should already tell you that the police are about to do something they aren’t supposed to.
The police began to gear up for entry. One cop pulled a shield from his trunk and slung an assault rife across his chest. Others strapped on helmets as they gathered around for a final briefing. However, just before they began to enter the property the man and the rest of his family came out. Immediately, the police pointed firearms at them and ordered them to the ground. So afraid for his sons safety was his father that he shielded him from the police and their weapons as they slowly approached the police.
During the standoff, an officer was ordered to blind our cameras with the lights on vehicles. This was the first time the police had made an attempt to obstruct our view during the standoff and I knew something bad was about to happen. I requested the lights be turned off, as they were not only obstructing my camera, but were also in my eyes and the glow from them was becoming increasingly irritating. The officers still refused even after I explained that I had undergone PRK surgery while in the military and their lights were causing me discomfort. Interestingly enough, the lights did nothing to further the investigation of the police and only served one reason, to obstruct our cameras.
There would be no other reason to blind the only non-state controlled objective records of the situation unless they knew what was about to happen was not conduct becoming of an officer. The camera obstructions angered me and family members who had also began to record the interaction. Shortly after turning on the exterior vehicle lights, the police rushed the suspect and his father. Some of them appeared to be swinging at them as they were dragged to the ground.
The assault was unnecessary and other than making the police wait before surrendering, I cant think of any reason for the police to have attacked the man. The senseless police aggression only angered the crowd more and they began to verbally insult the police, calling them pigs and saying fuck the police. When I asked an officer outside of the police tape why they assaulted the man, another officer pointed a non lethal shotgun at me and told me I was in the crime scene. This led to the perimeter being extended and officers being assigned to keep an eye on the spectators, who were growing increasingly upset with the behavior of the police.
The scene ended with the man being arrested, but before the police could escape one of the neighborhood residents reminded a black cop, tasked with policing the crowd, that the chains used to incarcerate slaves are the same chains that he used to restrain and drag other black men to cages; making him and any other black cops essentially sambos.
While no one was incited to violence it was a healthy change of pace to see people upset and willing to voice their opposition in the face of their oppressor. It’s not every day that you see people standing up to the police and publicly voicing their dissent for an institution that only exists because if its ability to steal from the very people it claims to protect.
Watch an edited version of the entire standoff.