A viral video clip showing San Francisco cops pinning down a homeless man who had a prosthetic leg doesn't tell the full story, the police department said.
A passerby filmed five officers holding down the 42-year-old black man, including one who kneels across the man's artificial limb, on Aug. 4 on Market Street in one of the city's busiest areas. The man, whose pants fell down during the struggle, yells for officers to return his crutches.
"I use these to walk," he says.
The 11-minute YouTube footage has been seen more than 120,000 times since it appeared online Monday. Chaédria LaBouvier, who filmed the altercation and wrote about it on Medium, described it as "racial profiling" and a "waste of resources."
Officer Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman, disputed LaBouvier's account, telling HuffPost that the man was in an "altered mental state" and "was a danger to himself and to others."
A 911 call about a man "waving sticks above his head in a threatening manner" sent officers to United Nations Plaza, where they found the man, Gatpandan said. Police wouldn't release his identity, citing medical confidentiality rules.
The man refused to put down the wooden sticks, which Gatpandan said were not crutches. He walked into the street and told officers "he did not care if he was going to be hit by a car," Gatpandan said. This disregard for the consequences of his behavior made it appropriate for officers to detain him for a mental health evaluation, Gatpandan said.
The video begins with the officers already on top of the man on the sidewalk. LaBouvier wrote that she saw officers “take down” the man. Gatpandan said the man fell and then officers piled on top of him.
The man bit an officer and kicked at others, Gatpandan said, but instead of charging him with assault on a peace officer, police transported the man to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. The police department did not track the outcome of those tests.
Officials are reviewing the encounter for possible violations of department policy.
LaBouvier didn't immediately respond to HuffPost's inquiries, but she wrote on Facebook that San Francisco residents should hold the police to higher standards.