A U.S. Marine veteran and filmmaker says he was assaulted by a Vallejo police officer and suffered a concussion just for filming the officer from his front porch on Jan. 22.
Adrian Burrell, 28, posted video of the encounter to Facebook this morning and provided it to Bay City News. He has retained civil rights attorney John Burris, who called the case "egregious" and said the officer's use of force was "unnecessary and unreasonable."
Vallejo police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an interview, Burrell said that he was relaxing in his home at about 3:15 p.m. that day when he saw his cousin outside on his motorcycle with his hands up. Vallejo police Officer David McLaughlin was crouched behind the door of his patrol car, pointing his gun at Burrell's cousin.
Burrell stepped outside onto his home's porch on Byron Street. He said his cousin was wearing a motorcycle helmet and couldn't hear the officer, and walked toward McLaughlin, saying, "Hey he can't hear you, he has his helmet on," according to Burrell.
McLaughlin yelled at Burrell to go back in the house.
"This is concerning I better film this," Burrell thought.
So Burrell, still standing on his front porch, took out his phone and began recording the incident. In the video, McLaughlin, with his gun drawn, says to Burrell's cousin, "Why you taking off like that?" twice, then looks at Burrell, who is on his porch, and says, "Get back!"
Burrell says no. McLaughlin says "get back" again, and again Burrell refuses.
Then McLaughlin says to the man on the motorcycle, "Keep your hands where I can see them, keep your hands right up," holsters his weapon and walks toward Burrell.
"You're interfering with me my man? You're interfering you're going to get one from the back of the car," McLaughlin says.
"That's fine," Burrell says.
McLaughlin appears to begin handcuffing Burrell.
"Stop resisting me or I'm going to put you on the ground," McLaughlin says.
"I'm not resisting. Put me on the ground," Burrell says.
Eventually the camera swings around and lands on the ground.
Burrell said that McLaughlin mashed his face into a wall and swung him into a pole. He applied the handcuffs so tight it broke the skin on his right hand and left his fingers numb.
Burrell said McLaughlin then put him in the patrol car and asked if he was on probation. Burrell said he is not on probation and has no criminal record.
Eventually, Burrell asked McLaughlin if he could be handcuffed in front, as he had injuries from being in the military. McLaughlin then told him, "Oh you're a vet? You sure weren't acting like one," according to Burrell. But Burrell says McLaughlin told him that he would let him go because he was a veteran, thanked him for his service and let him out of the car.
Burrell said he then went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion. He is still seeking treatment and says his fingers remain numb from the handcuffs.
Burrell said he was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years before he was honorably discharged in 2012. He now works as a filmmaker.
"I've never been in a situation as a grown adult where I felt someone had took my humanity away like that," Burrell said.
Burris said that in addition to the allegation of excessive force, Burrell's case involves First Amendment issues, as Burrell has a right to observe and film the police as long as he does not interfere.
"The Vallejo Police Department does have a reputation certainly in my office of being brutal and routinely using excessive force on citizens," Burris said.
McLaughlin has been a Vallejo police officer since 2014 and was previously in the Oakland Police Department. His twin brother, Ryan McLaughlin, is also a Vallejo police officer. Both brothers have previously been sued for alleged civil rights violations.
In 2014, David McLaughlin was named in a suit alleging that he and another officer pulled over Frederick Cooley without cause, held him at gunpoint and searched his car.
The complaint alleges they falsified a police report saying that Cooley was in possession of a controlled substance, but the Solano County District Attorney's Office later abandoned those charges. The civil case was dismissed after Cooley died.
Officer David McLaughlin has also been involved in two shootings since joining Vallejo police. He and Officer Matt Komoda fired on a suspect who was allegedly driving at them before crashing into a parked car on Aug. 31, 2016. No one was injured.
On Aug. 2, 2017, Komoda and David McLaughlin were two of five officers who shot and killed Jeffrey Barboa after a pursuit into Richmond.
Police rammed Barboa's car to disable it. Barboa got out of the car with a machete and the officers shot him. His death was later ruled a suicide.