Police investigated after video shows them pinning black man to ground for dancing

Alameda Police Department

City officials in Alameda, Calif., have called for an independent investigation after a black man who was dancing in the street was pinned to the ground and placed under arrest by officers.  

The man, Mali Watkins, 44, was arrested May 23 after police received a call from an area woman who said that “an African American person” was dancing in the street and “obviously something’s very wrong,” according to recordings from the police department’s non-emergency line released by the city.

In multiple videos of body camera footage, the man can be seen explaining that he was dancing in the street and exercising. Officers can be seen grabbing the man and holding his wrist on the ground. Officers also handcuffed the man, held him against a car and made him sit in a police vehicle. 

Other residents can be seen in the body camera footage insisting that the man “never bothers anybody” and that he was getting exercise.

City Manager Eric Levitt said in a Friday statement that the city will have an “independent investigation” into the arrest, citing “concerns regarding the incident.”

“I am interested in moving the Department in a positive direction. At this time, I do not know the reasons why the initial officers approached the call the way they did. I am hopeful that an investigation will provide better understanding to that question,” Levitt said in the statement.

The city’s police chief has also called for an independent investigation, CNN reported.

Alameda Vice Mayor John Knox White tweeted Saturday that he is “outraged,” “sad,” and “committed to ensuring that there is a full, independent investigation and that there is accountability for those involved, including those who created a system that allowed this to happen.”

“I join our community in a call to action to implement systemic change to make sure that this never happens again,” he continued.

The incident occurred two days before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Watkins told San Francisco-area outlet ABC7, “For me to hear what happened to this man, I immediately thought, one slip… it’s Mali instead of Floyd.” 

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in Minneapolis after a former police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest. His death has led to nationwide protests and widespread calls for police reform.

Tags Alameda Black Lives Matter California George Floyd George Floyd protests Mali Watkins Police police brutality

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