Nineteen-year-old student Justin Jay Fernandez had a controversial physical altercation with a San Diego Miramar College Campus Police officer on Sept. 4.
The altercation was made public, with a video recording of it posted on YouTube. As of Sept. 24 it has gained a viewing of 1,684 views and counting.
From the video, a viewer easily gains an understanding that the police officer confronted Fernandez for allegedly skateboarding on the San Diego Miramar College campus. Lt. Terry Hiett of the San Diego Community College District Police Department confirmed that he was in fact skateboarding on a walkway leading into the Business and Math Building. In the video, the police officer reminded Fernandez that before the altercation started, the police officer said to him “in the lobby (of the Business and Math Building) I was talking to you and I told you were detained, and that we had to talk about it and you said ‘no’ and you decided to walk away.”
The video begins with Fernandez aggressively cursing at the police officer for trying to physically prevent him from walking away from the situation and get to class. The police officer held onto Fernandez’s backpack, jerking Fernandez towards him in order to stop him from leaving. A small crowd followed the commotion and Fernandez attempted to explain to them that the officer was “holding on to (him)” and “(the police officer) got butt-hurt for no reason”. The police officer then took hold of his neck and threw him to the ground, attempting to establish Fernandez’s seizure. Fernandez fought back and resisted the restraint. He tried to break free from the police officer’s grasp by forcefully pushing the police officer off of him. On the hallway floor, he frantically exclaimed to the crowd that “he put (Fernandez) in a choke hold”. Fernandez and the police officer both eventually came to a fragile stalemate; both men were on the ground facing each other. The police officer held onto Fernandez by the collar of his shirt, while he kept his legs wrapped around the police officer. Fernandez said to him, “I’m not going to do anything, I’m keeping you here. I’m stopping you.”
Another police officer came to the scene, attempting to calm Fernandez down by telling him, “you’re good, you’re good, let him do his job.” Fernandez told the newly arrived police officer that he will cooperate with him, but not the police officer who had restrained him. Until other authorities arrived, the police officer did not let go of his collar to set him free. Fernandez then told the police officer that he was being choked by his collar and that he “will flip him over if he does not stop”. The police officer kept Fernandez restrained on the ground until more police officers arrived. During the wait, students can be heard in the video discussing their opinions on the altercation. Several other police officers arrived at the scene to arrest Fernandez. One officer said the arrest was justifiably “for safety”.
The person videotaping the situation, along with a few other witnesses of the situation, claimed the officer used “unnecessary force”, siding with Fernandez in the altercation. There were also other witnesses who were arguing against Fernandez and those who supported him. Those in opposition told Fernandez to be compliant, otherwise he “would make it worse”. One witness said “You have to use this type of force for people who are not complying, he was not being compliant” and “we need to respect the law”
Fernandez is currently going through a legal process to deal with his arrest. According to the public arrest log in the Miramar College Campus Police Department, he was charged with a misdemeanor and the description of the crime was resisting or delaying a peace officer.
Lt. Terry Hiett explained that he was “arrested for obstructing an officer to perform”. He also stated that not only was he being “verbally aggressive with an officer and was evasive”, but that skateboarding on campus is understood to be a citable offense, claiming that “officers do have the authority to contact anybody that is committing something citable.”. He wants the public to understand that the campus police does not have an “intention to be heavy handed, it is our intention to be fair and to protect the community”
Citing somebody for a violation of laws consists of issuing that person a citation, but it does not consist of the detention or arrest of that person.
ABC 10News interviewed a student at the campus to which she provides, “you would think that’s a little excessive for somebody who’s just skateboarding on campus. You would assume that he would maybe get a citation or something for it but not to get dropped and put into a choke-hold just for, you know, trying to get to class on time.” as well as asking, “why should we feel any safer with this sort of action?”
Fernandez publicly announced in a comment on the YouTube video that he “won’t reply to any comments made, but I don’t think everyone understands how this went down (and how startling it is to be choke-slammed first thing in the morning after a long night of grinding out online assignments).”