Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the Bakersfield Chapter of NAACP announced the filing of government claims for wrongful arrest, excessive force and racial profiling against the city of Bakersfield and Bakersfield Police Department on behalf of two local college students.
After a night of studying on Dec. 5, Bakersfield College students Timothy Grismore, 21, and Xavier Hines, 19, were walking on the sidewalk on their way to get something to eat at Taco Bell when an unmarked patrol car approached them on Valhalla Drive, behind West High School, and shined lights on them. Two individuals, who later identified themselves as police officers, asked if Grismore and Hines were on probation or parole, and began to search them. The officers then slammed Grismore on the ground and struck him with batons, after he asked why he was being searched. He suffered bruises on his body and needed stitches to close wounds on his face and. Both young men were detained overnight.
The Kern County District Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against them, stating the young men violated no laws, and the officers had no right to stop the two, search them or detain them.
“There was no reason whatsoever for these two young men to be stopped, let alone assaulted and detained overnight,” said Neil K. Gehlawat, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney for Grismore and Hines. “But perhaps what is most troubling is that the actions of these officers that night appeared to be racially motivated. The officers did what they did because they believed that Timothy and Xavier were affiliated with a gang – a conclusion we feel they reached only because the two young men were black.”
The announcement of the filing of the claim comes one month after the state Attorney General’s Office announced its civil rights investigation into the “pattern and practice” of excessive force by local law enforcement.
With the help of NAACP Bakersfield, the young men posted a video discussing the wrongful arrest, which has garnered nearly 250,000 views on the organization’s Facebook page.
The night of the claim filing, NAACP Bakersfield Chapter President Patrick Jackson — along with Hines, Grismore and members of the community — rallied and spoke at the Bakersfield City Council meeting.
The case is ongoing.
The FBI began investigating the case in January. Gehlawat told The Bakersfield Californian he doesn’t think it’s at all common for the FBI to conduct investigations like this. Hines and Grismore were interviewed by agents.
“I imagine they would be looking to see if there was any criminal conduct on the part of any of the parties,” Gehlawat told The Californian. “We’re obviously hopeful they’ll find some wrongdoing on the part of the officers because we think that all the evidence from that night suggests these officers had no reason to ever apprehend Xavier or Timothy, let alone physically assault them.”
MEDIA COVERAGE — ARREST/VIDEO
- College students beaten by police (NAACP Bakersfield – Jan. 3, 2017)
- Bakersfield Police Department investigating alleged officer misconduct linked to Facebook video (KERO-23, ABC – Jan. 4, 2017)
- BPD investigating students’ allegations of racial profiling, bogus arrests (The Bakersfield Californian – Jan. 4, 2017)
- Facebook video prompts internal investigation at Bakersfield Police Department (Eyewitness News, KBAK/KBFX, CBS/FOX – Jan. 4, 2017)
- DA: No charges filed against two men who say they were falsely arrested by BPD, which sparked video (KGET-17, NBC – Jan. 9, 2017)
- D.A. won’t file charges against students who claimed police abuse, unfair arrest (The Bakersfield Californian – Jan. 9, 2017)
- No criminal charges filed in Bakersfield Police alleged misconduct case (KERO-23, ABC – Jan. 9, 2017)
- LOIS HENRY: Silence on police incidents only breeds mistrust (The Bakersfield Californian – Jan. 10, 2017)
MEDIA COVERAGE — CLAIM FILED
- Full Press Conference (Courtesy of KERO-23, ABC – Jan. 25, 201)
- False arrest, excessive force claim against BPD likely Wednesday (The Bakersfield Californian – Jan. 24, 2017)
- Local NAACP moves to file government claims against Bakersfield police (Eyewitness News, KBAK/KBFX, CBS/FOX – Jan. 24, 2017)
- Two students file legal claim against Bakersfield police (Eyewitness News, KBAK/KBFX, CBS/FOX – Jan. 24, 2017)
- Pair who alleged unfair arrest, abuse file claim (The Bakersfield Californian – Jan. 25, 2017)
- Law firm files claims on behalf of two Bakersfield College students arrested by Bakersfield police (KERO-23, ABC – Jan. 25, 2017)
- Former CSUB students file lawsuit against officers (The Runner – Jan. 26, 2017)
- BC students take action against BPD (The Renegade Rip – Feb. 1, 2017)
- FBI investigating case of two black students who claimed false arrest, police brutality by BPD (The Bakersfield Californian — July 12, 2017)