Video showing an officer pointing a gun at two men questions the threat of force by law enforcement.
Alex Natividad told reporters that he was unarmed when he recorded a La Quinta policeman arresting his friend Sunday afternoon in Palm Desert, California.
At the start of the video, the officer has his service weapon pointed at the friend who begins to lie facedown on the ground. As the friend complies, the officer then turns and points his weapon at Natividad and orders him to the ground, but Natividad challenges the officer’s response.
“I ain’t doing anything. I ain’t doing anything,” he says, adding, “Why you gotta point a gun at me? Why you gotta point a gun at me? We have no weapons … We’re not a threat to you. Why do you have the gun pointed at me? I am not a threat. I got out of the car and I surrendered to you. Right here and you’re pointing a gun at me.”
Natividad then pleads with the officer to lower his weapon.
“I realize what just happened right now. It was a violation of the law. But it doesn’t require for you to pull out a gun. It’s not a threat. At least you can use your sense,” he says. “Come on. It’s one man talking to another man. Eliminate the gun or the badge. You’re a man. You’re a man. You’re a man behind that badge. Be like a man. That’s a coward pointing a gun at me.”
In the nearly 4-minute video, a second officer arrives and also draws his weapon. At one point, Natividad’s voice begins to crack as he starts to cry.
“I’m not doing anything. I am a law abiding citizen. I served in the United States Army. Okay,” he says. “I am scared for my freaking life right now. I got two guns pointed at me. I got two guns pointed at me for nothing. I am standing right here. This is a violation of my rights.”
According to a report by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, the incident began when the officer flipped on his lights behind a car, which belonged to Natividad’s friend, Michael Jude Jean-Baptiste, because it was blocking traffic.
When the officer approached, he said the driver was disoriented and appeared unresponsive, so he radioed for medical response.
After smelling what he believed to be marijuana emanating from inside the vehicle and the driver to be impaired, the officer reached inside the car to turn off the ignition. At that moment, however, the driver unexpectedly accelerated but quickly stopped. Shortly thereafter, both men exited the vehicle.
Fearing the unknown, the officer then pulled his service weapon and ordered both men on the ground. After the ordeal, Jean-Baptiste was arrested for driving while impaired by drugs. Natividad was detained but ultimately released from the scene.
Natividad reportedly shared the video on his Facebook, but took it down because of comments. He has since shared it with local media.
Natividad told reporters he filmed the incident because he feared for his life. He referenced police shootings across the country, including the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which has directed public scrutiny to how police respond to perceived threats.
Given all that transpired, a Riverside Sheriff’s Department spokesman told The Desert Sun that the officers did nothing wrong.
“I didn’t see anything in the video that stood out to me as a violation of our policy,” said Capt. Andrew Shouse, who oversees the sheriff’s station in that area. “He is not on administrative leave, and he is back at work.”
In this incident, was the threat of force justified? Tell us what you think.