‘That dude needs to go to jail’: Richmond man sues police, alleging wrongful, violent arrest

RICHMOND — A city resident has sued the city’s police department, alleging that he was unlawfully arrested while observing Richmond officers booking two other men into custody after a hectic April 29 incident that involved police chasing and tasing another man.

Johnathan Spragan filed a federal lawsuit last week, alleging that Spragan’s arrest was illegal and that he was “violently slammed to the ground and injured by the assaulting officers.” Publicly released body camera footage of the incident shows several officers rush and handcuff Spragan, bringing him to the ground in the process, in the aftermath of another person’s arrest.

Spragan’s lawsuit was filed by the law offices of Dan Horowitz, who also filed a federal suit on behalf of the Dejon brothers, whose arrests Spragan was observing.

Minutes before his arrest, Spragan argued with several Richmond officers, who were booking two men — Dejon and Dareron Brown — following a separate incident that has also become the subject of a federal lawsuit against the police department. Spragan leaves, then returns to observe the arrest, at which point an officer can be heard telling him, “Hey man, you need to back the f— up.”

Officers tell Spragan to leave, but he remains and continues to observe the arrest. A short time later, a woman — an apparent acquaintance of Spragan’s — comes up and pulls him away from the scene.

While Spragan is gone, an officer can be heard saying, “That dude needs to go to jail,” and theorizing that they could book him for a “face mask violation.”

Two officers are seen on the video not wearing face masks. The Contra Costa ordinance on face masks required them of certain public officials, including officers, but not civilians, Horowitz wrote in the complaint.

“In other words, Mr. Spragan was not violating the mask law but the one or two officers not wearing masks, were, as government officials in an area where the public was present, required to be masked,” Horowitz wrote.

When Spragan returns to the corner a third time, several officers rush to detain him. One can be heard yelling, “148,” the state penal code for resisting arrest, indicating that Spragan was arrested on suspicion of resisting or delaying a peace officer. He was later charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney, his attorney said.

In an earlier officer body camera video from that same day, released through Horowitz’s law firm, Dejon Brown can be seen cursing at officers who are conducting a traffic stop and asking the car’s occupants about marijuana in the car.

At some point, Dejon says, “I’ll beat yo a–,” to the officer, who responds, “You’ll what?” He moves an officer out of his way and rushes to Brown, who at this point has his back turned and is walking away. A struggle ensues, and officers take Brown to the ground and begin handcuffing him.

That’s when Dareron Brown allegedly walked up and shoved an officer, in an apparent attempt to get them off of his brother. As a result, the same officer who arrested Dejon Brown begins to pursue Dareron, chasing him through a gate and stunning him with a Taser.

The arrests drew a crowd of residents, including Spragan, who objected to the officers’ use of force. A few can be heard trying to persuade police to free the Brown brothers.

Richmond police have not responded to Spragan’s suit, and a spokesman for the department didn’t respond to requests for comment. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

A 10-minute video of the events leading up to Spragan’s arrest can be seen below:

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Author: Nate Gartrell