Police carried camera images taken at the beginning of an incident in which 44-year-old Mali Watkins was arrested on May 23, 2020 in Alameda, California. Image from a video of the Alameda Police Dept.
A Pasadena-based lawyer has been commissioned by the city of Alameda to conduct an independent investigation into the arrest of a black man after he was seen dancing on a street in May, resulting in a public outcry and allegations of racial profiles and excessive violence. Officials said.
Alfonso Estrada of the Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud, and Romo law firm was ordered to investigate the May 23 arrest of 44-year-old Mali Watkins, Alameda city officials said in a written statement.
"Mr. Estrada has extensive experience in performing external independent administrative investigations into police officers' activities, including the use of incidents of violence," the statement said. "He has investigations into the police and fire department of the city of Beverly Hills, the city Anaheim, the Alhambra City Police, the City of Colton, the Loma Linda City Fire Department and the Fresno City Fire Department. "
"In his previous experience as a prosecutor, Mr. Estrada worked with law enforcement officials and public defenders to seek justice in Los Angeles criminal courts," the statement said. "Mr. Estrada is uniquely qualified to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into a peace officer."
The arrest took place after someone called the police to report that he was concerned about Watkins' mental state because he was acting strangely, the Mercury News reported.
Watkins has reportedly told the responding officials that he was dancing and exercising as is his normal routine.
When he told the officials that he lived and left in the neighborhood, the officers forced him to the ground and arrested him, according to the Mercury News, on suspicion of resisting or hindering the police.
The two chief officers involved in the arrest, identified as Officer Harris Smiler and Officer Anthony Buck, were both taken on administrative leave until the investigation was completed, city officials said
An estimated schedule for the investigation was not available.
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