San Diego

SDPD Releases Body Camera and Helicopter Footage in Response to Excessive Force Accusations Made After Arrest Video Circulates on Social Media

An 11-second video posted to Twitter Tuesday shows a group of law enforcement officers holding an individual down during an arrest and throwing punches

The San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit responded to questions Wednesday regarding a video showing the alleged use of excessive force by officers during the controversial arrest of a black man in Chula Vista.

The video, obtained by NBC 7, shows approximately five men in a circle. The men appear to be members of law enforcement, however their uniforms – and which agency they may represent – are not clear in the video. Handcuffs can be seen on at least one man’s waistband; another man is wearing a vest that reads “POLICE.”

The video was posted across Twitter Tuesday.

SDPD released helicopter footage and officer body-worn camera footage of the incident.

"We hear and understand the community’s concerns about the video being shared on social media," Chief Nisleit said. "However, this video does not provide context on what led up to the struggle with Mr. Cannon.”

The arrest occurred Tuesday on in Chula Vista. Detectives were conducting surveillance on 20-year-old Trenelle Cannon concerning outstanding warrants for felony possession of a firearm and robbery.

Uniformed officers were ordered to take Cannon into custody and as they approached, Cannon took off on foot, according to Nisleit.

Officers gave chase and lost sight of Cannon momentarily. They recovered a loaded .45 caliber pistol where witnesses told police Cannon had been jumping fences.

Police believe the firearm belonged to Cannon.

Nisleit said Cannon was spotted again on the 1100 block of 4th Avenue getting into a car that had four others inside. It continued driving onto Interstate 5, Nisleit said.

Police then conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on an E Street off-ramp, and when an officer attempted to block a passenger door to prevent Cannon from escaping, Cannon forced his way out and knocked the officer to the ground.

“Instead of complying, Cannon lunged forward and tackled the officer to the ground, with the officer landing on his back," Nisleit said.

Nisleit said that responding officers feared Cannon could be in possession of a weapon, and "used a combination of physical force and distraction strikes to take him into custody while continuously giving him orders to surrender.”

The 11-second video recorded by a witness inside the car shows at least one of the officers apparently striking Cannon with his right arm while other officers held him down.

Audio on the video includes a woman yelling, “Why are you beating him up? You guys are beating him up!”

Helicopter footage released by SDPD shows the moment Cannon exits the vehicle as an officer approaches. The two spill to the ground on the shoulder of the off-ramp as other officers approach.

Body camera footage released by SDPD shows the vantage point of an officer who ran around the front end of the car as Cannon and the first officer wrestled to the ground.

Cannon continued to be uncooperative, Nisleit said, keeping his hands in front of his body and at one point pushing up against an officer's gun belt.

It took the strength of multiple officers to restrain and handcuff Cannon, but no additional force was used on him once he was in custody, Nisleit said.

Cornelius Bowser Sr., the NAACP San Diego Chapter Religious Affairs Committee Chair, posted the video to his page with this message: “The San Diego Police Department Gang Unit owe us some answers for assault. This is not ok, and we will not allow this to be the norm for young black men. The SDPD gang unit is the biggest threat to the black community and needs to be disbanded.”

Nisleit said Internal Affairs detectives were notified of the arrest and immediately responded. They are conducting an administrative investigation to determine if the officers complied with department use of force policy during the arrest.

Detectives will review witness statements, witness video, and department video. 

The criminal investigation into Cannon is ongoing, Nisleit said.

"I'm very happy to say there were no significant injuries to Mr. Cannon or our officers, although all of them suffered minor injuries, such as abrasions," Nisleit said.

Nisleit said the object of Wednesday's news conference was to establish transparency and reveal the facts of the incident beyond the video clip being shared on social media.

Nisleit said additional video footage from an SDPD helicopter and a body-worn camera will be released. 

"We are confident that once the public sees the full video and learns what led up to this confrontation, the community will understand why our officers used the necessary force to take Mr. Cannon into custody," Nisleit said.

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