San Diego

Protesters Interrupt National City Council Meeting

At least three people were taken into custody at a City Council meeting Tuesday in National City after a group demanding more transparency in the investigation of a man’s in police custody became unruly.

The group, led by friends and family of Earl McNeil, 40, demanded the release of officer-worn camera footage, the involved officers’ names and the Medical Examiner’s death report be released to the public.

McNeil went to National City police looking for help on May 26, according to his family. He ended up in police custody with bruises, comatose and severe brain damage. McNeil's family said he was a San Diego resident who suffered from mental illness. He died in the hospital after being in a vegetative state for days with brain damage.

This isn’t the first time a group has protested at a city council meeting on McNeil’s behalf, and it’s not the first time someone in attendance was arrested.

Last month, Tasha Williamson was arrested after she claimed the National City Police Chief was smiling as she championed for justice for McNeil. She was speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting and refused to leave the podium when her time was up. That’s when she noticed NCPD Chief Manuel Rodriguez with an alleged wry smile which sent her on a profanity-laced tirade.

Williamson said Tuesday the group will continue to show up at City Council meetings until they see justice for McNeil. They also say they'll be putting pressure on the FBI and District Attorney's office.

"This is a game to the National City Police Department. It is not a game to us," Williamson said.

Protestors were seen on the floor of the hallway outside the meeting room refusing to move. A woman was seen being handcuffed on the ground, and another woman was heard shouting "back up!" repeatedly as two officers confronted her. 

"We are demanding that they release the videotape, names of the officers, and the Medical Examiner's report," she added.

The NCPD released a statement following McNeil's death that said he called them from outside the police station on May 26. When they came out, he was paranoid and combative.

Police said they found a controlled substance on McNeil and attempted to arrest him, and added they restrained him using a wrap.

They said he stopped breathing while they were transporting him to the county jail and officers called paramedics.

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