Rio Vista, CA — A traffic stop over a $14 vehicle registration sticker led to the arrest of multiple individuals and the brutal body slamming of a 31-year-old woman by a Rio Vista police officer this week. The entire chaotic scenario was captured on video.
The incident took place Sunday evening when police stopped a vehicle for an expired registration sticker. The vehicle had four people inside, including the driver, who were all detained by police.
According to police, the occupants of the vehicle did not want to exit the car to allow police to impound it. One of the passengers in the vehicle, Tyrone Clayton Jr. called a family member to the scene to record what was happening.
“Just being pulled over, I fear for my life every time as an African American in Rio Vista,” Clayton told KCRA.
Thomas’ family said they had the proper documentation to prove they had actually paid the registration, and the officers refused to review it, which is why they remained in the vehicle.
That’s when Clayton’s stepsister, Cherish Thomas and his stepmother, Deshaunna Payne showed up and began recording.
Thomas and Payne were seen on the officer’s body camera footage standing back from the scene, filming with their cellphones as police arrested multiple individuals over a traffic stop which Payne explained was “over a $14 sticker.”
“I have four kids in that car,” Payne said. “I wanted to make sure they were OK.”
When Thomas tried to walk closer to the officers, all hell broke loose.
According to police, Thomas obstructed the investigation and pushed one of the officers. However, according to the officer’s own body camera footage, Thomas never pushed anyone.
The video never shows Thomas push any officer and all she is doing before being assaulted and violently thrown to the ground, is filming.
As the video shows, Thomas is trying to walk along the sidewalk to film the arrest of her family members when the officer approached her. She never once attempted to hit, push, or otherwise touch the officer at all before he rips the phone from her hand, positions himself behind her, picks her up and slams her head first into the ground.
“What can I do at this point? He’s a police officer. And I’m (120 pounds),” Thomas said. “So what am I going to do? Fight him? No.”
After watching the cop slam her daughter into the ground, Payne says she went into “mother mode” and stepped in to stop the violence. Attempting to protect her daughter was interpreted as assaulting a police officer, so another officer moved in to arrest Payne.
“I wasn’t trying to attack them. He slammed my baby,” she said. “I went in mother mode to protect my child.”
Naturally, police claim slamming the innocent woman into the ground was a way to “control the situation.”
“(The) officer tackled her (Thomas) to the ground in order to gain control of her while his partner stepped in to take Deshaunna Payne into custody,” Rio Vista Police Chief Dan Dailey said in a press release.
According to police, Thomas and Payne have been charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an investigation. Police also claim that in investigation is underway into the alleged use of excessive force.
Thomas was injured from the body slam and spent Sunday night in the hospital. She left the hospital Monday, noting that she is still in pain from the arrest.
“I was scared. I’m not going to lie. Because at the end of the day, that’s a police officer, and they can do what they want to do,” she said. And they did.
Below are the videos from the incident. Remember, as you watch the chaos unfold, that this was all over a sticker—which, according to the family, they had paid for and just hadn’t put it on yet.
Cellphone footage of the body slam.
Body camera footage from the body slamming officer.