SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Newly-released body camera video from Sacramento police is shedding light on the case of a parolee who died while being transported to county jail.
As part of their commitment to be transparent and the result of a 2016 ordinance, police released body and dash cam videos Wednesday, just hours after the family of Brandon Smith held a press conference demanding answers. Smith’s family made a painful plea to find out what led up to his death.
Smith was 30 years old and a father of three. Now the videos are raising a lot more questions.
“It’s especially disturbing from the pain my mother felt seeing the video,” said Smith’s younger brother Brionne Mays. “I feel like some procedures wasn’t followed when it comes to someone in your custody.”
And while it was heartbreaking to watch the newly released video of the day his brother died, Mays says he now has more questions about the officer’s actions.
“He was definitely man-handled, I think the video shows that,” said Mays.
The body camera video starts with Smith handcuffed and on the ground inside the Volunteers of America detox center in Sacramento.
“The first thing we all wondered is why is he on the ground?” said family attorney Justin Ward.
The responding Sacramento police officer was wearing a body camera, but the parole agents inside did not have body cameras. No footage from inside the center has been released.
Smith’s mother says she dropped off her son in good health with his parole agent Wednesday morning around 11 a.m. She says the purpose was to get help from the parole agent for new housing. She doesn’t understand why he was taken to a detox center.
“She promised me my son would be transported to a housing facility, I dropped him off at 11, and around 3 p.m. I got a call that my son was dead,” said mother Yolanda Ford.
Smith’s parole agent took him to the detox center and according to the California Department of Corrections, Smith admitted to being under the influence of illegal drugs, which would be a parole violation. That’s when the parole agents requested the help of a Sacramento police officer who was there on an unrelated call to transport Smith to the county jail.
“Why wasn’t medical attention provided right then and there? It was a detox center. They have to have medical staff there. Some people there could overdose, some could have reactions to medications, they had that ability. But their only mindset was to take him to jail. We don’t know why they were taking him to jail, he was asking for help,” said Ward.
At one point in the audio, Smith says something along the lines of “I think I’m having a heart attack.”
“If the people listening to the video could hear it, law enfrocement that was there should be able to hear it,” said Ward.
“It’s all part of the investigation. What did the officer hear, what did he see, what information did the officer have? And was there enough for him to know that there was a medical emergency prior to putting him in the patty wagon,” said Sgt. Vance Chandler.
Also in question is how Smith was put into the patrol van.
“Everyone in that room saw and heard his head hit the wall,” said Ward.
“We do know he was handcuffed and placed in the wagon. If that was appropriate or not as to how he was placed in there will be part of the investigation,” said Chandler.
During the short transport, the officer did notice Smith was not moving and immediately went to check on him and CPR was performed. But by that time, it appeared too late.
“No one told me why he died, they still won’t let me see him, and to be honest I believe they’re covering up something and I’m really angry. I just want answers and justice for my son,” said Yolanda Ford.
The family also says they have not been allowed to see Smith’s body.
An autopsy was performed by the Sacramento County Coroner’s office and according to Sac PD no trauma was found that would have led to Smith’s death and the cause of death is pending further toxicology results.