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San Diego Police Chief Promises Investigation Of Rough Arrest Captured On Video

Trenelle D. Cannon, 20, seen in a San Diego police officer's body-worn camera...

Credit: San Diego Police Department

Above: Trenelle D. Cannon, 20, seen in a San Diego police officer's body-worn camera struggling with another officer on May 7, 2019.

Following the release on social media of a video clip showing San Diego Police Department officers repeatedly striking a young black man during a struggle on a South Bay roadside, Chief David Nisleit defended his officers' actions Wednesday while promising an internal review of the violent arrest.

The short and shaky cellphone footage of the officers' struggle with 20-year-old Trenelle D. Cannon on Tuesday evening prompted online outrage and accusations of recurring police brutality directed toward people of color.

Nisleit described the personnel's use of force — including fist blows he categorized as "distraction strikes" — as necessary under the circumstances.

"We hear and understand the community's concerns about the video being shared on social media," Nisleit said during a late-afternoon briefing. "However, this video does not provide context of what led up to the struggle with Mr. Cannon."

The scuffle erupted about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, after Cannon allegedly ran from officers who tried to take him into custody on outstanding robbery and gun-violation warrants in the 600 block of E Street in Chula Vista, according to police. The personnel found a loaded pistol abandoned where they had just seen the suspect, Nisleit said.

The suspect got into a car occupied by four other people and was driven off as officers gave chase and sought to pull over the vehicle. The driver yielded near an Interstate 5 on-ramp and one officer approached a passenger door next to where Cannon was seated.

At that point, the suspect allegedly burst out of the vehicle and tackled the patrolman, prompting several other officers to rush over and pile onto Cannon as one of his companions videotaped the unfolding fracas from inside the car.

"Believing Cannon possibly had another weapon, responding officers used a combination of physical force and distraction strikes to take him into custody while continuously giving him orders to surrender," Nisleit said at the SDPD headquarters in downtown San Diego.

"Cannon refused to cooperate and struggled to keep his hands in front of his body. At one point, he pushed up against an officer's gun belt."

The personnel used no more heightened force on Cannon once he finally was in custody, and neither the suspect nor the involved officers suffered any serious injuries during the arrest, Nisleit said.

SDPD internal affairs investigators will determine whether the officer acted in accordance with the department's use-of-force policies, Nisleit said.

"They also will evaluate all available evidence, which includes department video footage, witness statements and video captured by witnesses," Nisleit said, adding that the department will publicly release images from an officer's uniform-worn camera and from a patrol helicopter assisting on the call.

"Transparency is key here, folks, and that's why you're seeing this. This is why you're seeing us respond — to tell you the whole facts of what occurred, (as compared with) just a 12-second video clip ... posted on social media.

"We are confident (that) once the public sees ... the full video (evidence) 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."

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