The city has released six videos detailing the brutal interaction between Christopher Ballew, 21, and two Pasadena police officers that left Ballew with a lacerated forehead and a broken leg.
The videos include the body-worn camera footage from the two officers involved, Lerry Esparza and Zachary Lujan.
Esparza and Lujan are lateral transfers from other police departments which have not been disclosed by the city. Esparza came to Pasadena 11 months ago and Lujan joined the department in 2015.
Pasadena has attempted to attract officers from other departments over the last several years in response to a growing list of openings as a result of retirements and officers leaving for places offering better pay.
The videos include footage from a dashboard camera showing Esparza and Lujan making a U-turn on North Fair Oaks Avenue to follow a white Mercedes Sedan that Ballew was traveling in to a Mobil gas station at the corner of Woodbury Road.
The car did not have a front license plate and had a tinted front windshield.
Ballew’s lawyer, civil rights attorney John Burton of Pasadena, called the two officers “thugs” who should not be policing Pasadena. “I believe the six videos tell a complete story,” Burton said. “Crimes were committed here, but they were committed against Christopher Ballew.”
Police made contact with Ballew as he walked toward the cashier at the gas station. Officers walked Ballew back to his vehicle and attempted to handcuff him. Ballew resisted as Lujan repeatedly hurled profanities at the Altadena resident demanding Ballew to give him his “f–king hands.”
“Shut the f–k up,” Lujan screamed at Ballew after Ballew’s face was forced into the asphalt. Ballew repeatedly requested the officer call his commanding officer.
The officer also repeatedly told him to “Stop acting like a dummy.”
Moments later, Ballew managed to make it to his feet and was struck twice by a baton. Ballew grabbed the baton and began struggling with Esparza for the weapon.
As a scuffle ensued, Lujan drew his service revolver, but holstered it because Esparza was too close to Ballew.
By then Ballew had been knocked to the ground by Esparza and dropped the baton.
After holstering his weapon, Esparza picked up the retractable metal baton and struck Ballew three times in the legs and ankles while his partner slammed Ballew’s head into the asphalt.
Ballew suffered a fractured fibula at some point during the encounter.
“I have blood in my eyes,” Ballew screamed.
The last 47 seconds of the Nov. 9 incident, shot by a passerby, was released on social media by Ballew on Dec. 6.
The incident has been called “reprehensible” by the NAACP which has demanded the footage from the police body worn cameras be released.
Pasadena police officers have been wearing body cams since November 2015. This is the first time the public has demanded copies of body camera footage. City Manager Steve Mermell noted when he announced it would be released under no obligation to the city.