A University of California police officer drew his gun and pointed it at students protesting meeting of the UC regents this morning, and the UC San Francisco police chief’s explanation as to why doesn’t seem to hold water.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, UCSF police chief Pamela Roskowski told a press conference today that the officer drew his weapon after a protester took his baton and hit him on the head with it, but that claim appears to be contradicted by a video recording of the incident.
In the video, posted on the Chronicle‘s website, the officer lunges into a crowd which is surging toward him. With his baton held in both hands in front of him, he tussles briefly with one protester. For most of the scuffle, which lasts for less than five seconds, the baton is visible in his possession. As he breaks away from the protester he is clutching the baton in his left hand, and he only draws his gun after the baton has fallen from his grasp to the floor behind him. The officer’s helmeted head is visible throughout the altercation with the protester, and there is no indication that he is ever struck with the baton or any other object.
I’ll have more to say on this incident tomorrow.
Update | Here’s another copy of the same video, from a local television station’s website. At 0:42 in this video the officer is holding his baton in both hands. At 0:45 and 0:49 he’s holding it in his left hand in the same orientation. The only time it’s even possible that he could have lost control of the baton is the three seconds (or less) between 0:42 and 0:45, and his head is clearly visible during that entire period.
Second Update | Here’s raw video of the altercation and its aftermath. Although Roskowski claimed that someone said “take his gun” before the officer unholstered his weapon, no such statement can be heard.
Morning Update | Here are some more thoughts on yesterday’s events, and what they mean for the University of California.
November 26, 2011 | I tweeted a link to this post this morning, as it seemed worth mentioning in light of recent events. Unfortunately the videos linked above are no longer online, and I have been unable to find footage of the entire incident. You can, however, see video of Officer Kemper pointing his gun at unarmed students here.