A candidate running for San Diego City Attorney was arrested Friday as protesters flooded the streets of downtown San Diego in the aftermath of a heated rally held by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Hours after Trump delivered a speech to supporters at the San Diego Convention Center in downtown San Diego, unrest continued on the streets with violent protests that resulted in 35 arrests, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said.
Bryan Pease, a San Diego-based attorney, was among those taken into custody as officers outfitted in riot gear worked for hours to control the massive crowds and avoid violent clashes between Trump opponents and supporters.
In video captured by NBC 7's News Chopper, Pease can be seen walking in front of a line of officers in San Diego's Barrio Logan area while holding a sign that reads, "Bryan Pease City Attorney."
Moments later, several officers break away from the police line and charge at Pease, taking him to the ground and handcuffing him.
Pease recorded his take-down and arrest on his cellphone, too, and NBC 7 obtained that video Saturday.
In his video, Pease Is heard asking officers, "Am I being ordered to move? I'm not blocking any traffic. I'm in the median -- in middle of the road."
Officers charge Pease and take him down, his cellphone flying onto the ground. As his phone lies on the ground, several officers walk by, the police line advancing.
Pease sent NBC 7 an email about his arrest early Saturday morning. In the email, Pease wrote, in part:
"I was tackled by several police officers for filming their riot today following the Trump protest, when they forced all protesters all the way to Barrio Logan. I was then held for 10 hours in a cramped, filthy jail cell with 20 other individuals similarly falsely arrested until our bail of $500 each was processed."
Pease was released from jail Saturday morning. He spoke with NBC 7 shortly after his release.
Pease said he wasn't trying to get arrested at Friday's rally aftermath but was there as a "free speech attorney and legal observer."
In the moments leading up to his arrest, Pease said he was trying to take a stand against what he viewed as police overstepping their legal boundaries with protesters who, in his opinion, were behaving peacefully and were miles away from the site of the rally.
He said the officers at the event were an example of the "militarization of the police department."
"This was like a military occupation of Barrio Logan," Pease told NBC 7. “There were some protesters, probably, on both sides that needed to be arrested. That’s why law enforcement is there. But then I saw the police forcing the peaceful protesters completely out of the area and they didn’t stop there."
As local political candidate, Pease said he has campaigned very vocally about the need to "hold the police department accountable and make them respect free speech rights and Constitutional rights."
Pease said he was there with a bullhorn expressing his views on the situation and said the scene got a bit chaotic. At one point, he said police fired pepper balls at protesters.
According to SDPD Lt. Scott Wahl, Pease was arrested and booked for "refusal to disperse" after he was ordered by police to leave an area filled with protesters.
After protesters refused to leave downtown areas, the police department declared "unlawful assembly." There were no reported injuries or property damage amid the chaotic scenes downtown.
Pease said SDPD should have only declared "unlawful assembly" and arrested those protesters who were directly involved in the violence, but let the others protest peacefully.
When asked if his arrest generated publicity for his City Attorney run, Pease said he does think this incident will help his campaign, or at least help him reach a broader audience of voters who agree with him.
“My guess is that because he was inflaming things he was someone they needed to neutralize so they can continue on, gain control,” criminal justice professor and former police officer Kevin Lachapelle told NBC 7. “I really believe that the police showed tremendous restraint.”
NBC 7 reached out to the police department Saturday for further comment on the arrests during the Trump protests, including Pease's case.
Wahl sent NBC 7 this statement via email:
"We are proud of the professionalism, restraint and patience displayed by all of the involved officers and deputies during Mr. Trump's visit to San Diego. They provided a safe environment to allow for the freedom of speech. Our decision to declare an unlawful assembly came as a result of violent behavior and unlawful acts within the crowd of protestors. We are very pleased with the outcome of yesterday's event."