A man seen on video struggling with Pasadena police during his November arrest and eventually being repeatedly struck by officers when he was on the ground filed a damages claim with the city Wednesday and insisted he tried to follow the officers' orders during the confrontation.
"I tried my best to comply with every command that was given to me, from give me your hands' to 'turn over,'" Christopher Ballew told reporters during a news conference at the office of his attorney, John Burton. "Nobody to this day has told me why I was stopped, really. Nobody's told me why this escalated in this manner. Nobody's told me anything."
Ballew, 21, was arrested Nov. 9 near Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodbury Road. According to Burton, police contend they stopped him over the window tint on his car, but the attorney said that claim was only an excuse.
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"They weren't interested in ticketing him for tinted windows," he said. "And at every step of the way they violated basic police procedure." William Boyer, a spokesman for the city of Pasadena, said Ballew's claim "will be processed in an appropriate manner like all claims filed with the city."
He said the city "takes seriously all use-of-force incidents," and the arrest "is under active internal review."
Bystander video showing a portion of the arrest was posted on social media and was shown on local television newscasts. Pasadena police responded by releasing more extensive body-camera and dashboard-camera video of the confrontation. Boyer said the city released the "unredacted" videos "so all can see the full incident, not just an edited 45-second version."
Police said after the arrest that Ballew was combative during the confrontation and refused to comply with officers' orders, ultimately grabbing the police baton. At one point during the struggle, Ballew is seen grabbing one end of an officer's baton, resulting in a brief tug-of-war.
Eventually, Ballew is forced to the ground, with one officer on top of him and the other swinging the baton at his legs, one of which was eventually broken. Ballew was ultimately booked on suspicion of assault on a police officer.
He was since released, and Burton said prosecutors have thus far declined to file any charges against him. Ballew said Wednesday he is still traumatized by the altercation.
"I've lost sleep every single night since what happened," he said. "I get anxiety whenever I see a police car. Whenever I hear a police siren, my body starts to shake and I start to look around to see if they're coming for me."
Burton did not reveal how much money in damages Ballew is seeking in the legal claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit. Ballew's father, Anthony, said he believes his son was "targeted" by police. "From what I saw, I didn't see him doing anything wrong, and I think they went looking for trouble," he said.