Long Beach, CA — Solomon Brooks, 31, was freed from jail Friday. He was facing life in prison after two police officers — who brutally beat him with their batons for a bicycle light — lied, and said he attacked them. Luckily for Brooks, a bystander decided to film the police and the video caught the offending officers in the act.
On June 3, 2016, Brooks had harmed no one when he was targetted by Long Beach police officers who were going to 'protect society' by extorting Brooks over his lack of proper bicycle lighting. This much of the story, both sides agree on.
According to police, however, when they tried to stop Brooks, they said he fled and then threw his bicycle at them. Police then claimed Brooks attacked them. This account was never verified and, in fact, it was disputed by multiple eyewitnesses and video.
What actually happened—according to the video and witnesses—was much different.
According to one eyewitness, the officers began beating Brooks with their batons before he even got off of his bicycle.
As the video shows, Brooks was scared of the officers and did, indeed, try to get away. However, he is then seen crouching down behind a car and raises an arm, saying to the officers, “Don’t Tase me,” or, “Don’t hit me.”
In their reports, neither of the Long Beach police officers, Brady Vriens and Leticia Newton, mentioned the subsequent beating that ensued in the video.
“Do you really believe that both of them forgot about this interaction?” Brooks’ attorney, Meghan Blanco, pointed out during the trial.
During the chase, the officers said they Tasered, pepper-sprayed and used a baton on Brooks multiple times, but did not mention the beating that was caught on film.
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“He would run, stop, turn, face us and confront us, and when the force was used, he’d run again,” Vriens said. Again, however, this was never verified by witnesses and, in fact, disputed.
As the Press-Telegram reported:
Two people dining at the Korean restaurant where the altercation ended testified they watched Brooks fleeing but never saw him raise his fists.
Although Blanco challenged the officers’ credibility using the video, the footage also cast doubt on the defense’s key witness.
Elizabeth Brainard, the burger shop employee who said police instigated the violence, testified that she witnessed firsthand what happened in the video.
Prosecutors attempted to discredit Brainard because she didn't immediately come forward to police. However, when she took the stand, she explained why it took her some time.
“I also know what I saw was wrong, and for that, I want to speak up,” Brainard said.
To show just how unjust Brooks thought this case was, he was offered a deal in May that would have freed him from jail immediately if he pleaded guilty to one count of resisting arrest. Instead, Brooks, who was facing life in prison because of California's 'third strike' law, chose to fight the charges. His gamble paid off.
If jurors would've convicted Brooks on the felony charges of attacking police officers, he would have gone to jail for the rest of his life. However, the jury only found him guilty of misdemeanor resisting for fleeing the officers.
“I’m ecstatic,” Brooks’ mother, Kathleen Brooks, said in the courtroom. “Every time I came up here, I thought I was taking him home. Now it’s really happening.”
Below is what it looks like to ride your bicycle without a light in the land of the free. If you attempt to resist your extortion, you will be swiftly and violently dealt with. Thankfully, because a vigilant citizen decided to film the police, an innocent man was spared from the unfortunate fate of spending the rest of his life in a cage.