SAN DIEGO – San Diego police released body-worn camera footage showing two officers tackling and punching a homeless man who tried to walk away after they stopped him for urinating on a La Jolla thoroughfare earlier this month.
The May 12 arrest of 34-year-old Jesse Evans sparked local outrage after part of the encounter was captured on video and publicly shared by a bystander. It comes as demands for police reform continue to play out in communities nationwide amid a series of high-profile incidents of misconduct involving officers and the people they serve.
Video shared by the department includes about 40 seconds of bystander Nicole Bansal’s cellphone recording of the rough arrest at Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Village Drive.
WARNING: The video below contains images and language that viewers may find disturbing.
Body-worn camera video picks up around 9 a.m. when the department reported two unnamed officers witnessed Evans urinating into some shrubbery on the side of a road in the 4100 block of Torrey Pines Road. The first officer steps out of his vehicle and approaches Evans.
“You can’t urinate in public, my man,” the officer said, to which Evans responds, “I’m going to p— my pants.”
“You can’t urinate in public,” the officer continues. “People have to pass by here and watch you urinate? That’s not cool, man.”
Evans, a Black man wearing dark clothing and an orange life jacket, turns around and faces the officer. “Do you want me to p— my pants?” he said. “What the f— is wrong with you?”
“Relax, boss,” the officer replies.
Evans then turns and begins walking down the sidewalk away from the officer. The officer then puts on a face mask as a second officer approaches. They’re both facing Evans when he turns back to them and begins shouting.
“Stay the f— out of my life,” he said.
The two officers confer about the situation before returning to their vehicle to catch up with Evans. According to the department, they planned to detain him for violating local municipal code.
The video picks back up again from the vantage point of the second officer’s body-worn camera. It shows the second officer coming across Evans as he’s in a nearby crosswalk. Evans shouts again, “Leave me the f— alone.”
One of the officers is heard ordering Evans to stop in the crosswalk. But he continues to walk and the first officer is seen grabbing Evans from behind while the second officer makes contact with Evans while facing him.
Then a struggle breaks out where officers are seen punching Evans multiple times in the face and body. Officers repeatedly shout for Evans to “stop resisting,” but the tussle between the three ends up on the pavement. The department also says that Evans twice punched at the second officer.
The camera temporarily gets knocked out of place at the 3:30 mark in the department’s release, reappears to show an officer punching Evans, then goes out again for the next several minutes. In that period, officers can be heard telling Evans over and over to stop resisting, while Evans repeats that he was only trying to urinate.
“Stop resisting, man,” one officer says. “You have to put your hands behind your back.”
“I’m trying to take a f—— p—,” Evans replies. “What in the f— is wrong with you? I’m going to p— my pants, you idiot.”
Days after the incident and with a bandage over his left eye, Evans appeared with local civil rights activist Shane Harris. He said that he forgave the officers, but that improvements were needed in the relationship between officers and the local homeless population.
“I hope I’m the last victim of such nonsense,” he said.
Harris was more pointed, arguing that what he witnessed was “a Black man being brutalized, being treated like he wasn’t a human, being treated unjustly just two days ago.” He spoke repeatedly about Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis officer convicted for killing George Floyd, vowing to “pluck out the next Derek Chauvin in our region.”
Evans was not seriously injured in the altercation and he has not been charged with any crimes. On Monday, a misdemeanor case was referred to City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office for possible prosecution, spokeswoman Hilary Nemchik said in an email.
“Like every case our office receives, it will undergo a thorough review,” Nemchik said.
San Diego police say the department’s Internal Affairs unit is investigating to determine if officers violated any department policies.