Fresno, CA — Before his confrontation with the Fresno police last year, London Wallace, then-17, had never been in trouble with the law. He's never been arrested, never committed a crime and had done nothing wrong when his home was raided by a dozen cops—some of whom beat the hell out of him for no reason.
Almost immediately after the incident unfolded in January of 2019, the Fresno police department found the savage and unnecessary beating of the innocent teenager to be justified. This prompted a review by Fresno's independent police reviewer who conducted an outside investigation into the incident. Independent reviewer John Gliatta concluded — in May of this year — that the repeated punches officer Christopher Martinez doled out to the face of Wallace were excessive force.
Despite finishing the report in May, Gliatta chose not to release it because it was completed around the same time George Floyd protests began flaring up across the country. So, Gliatta admitted that he made the decision to withhold the report because it disputed the police department's account and would like lead to civil unrest.
As the Fresno Bee reports:
Independent Police Reviewer John Gliatta said during the Sept. 16 meeting of a commission subcommittee that he completed his report about police use-of-force on 17-year-old London Wallace about a week before the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
He said he decided unilaterally, without input from the community or police, to keep the findings out of the quarterly July audit of police. Gliatta also noted it is within his power to make that kind of decision on his own.
He said “emotions were running rampant” in the wake of the May 25 killing of Floyd.
“My investigation was completed probably a week or so before the death of George Floyd,” Gliatta says in the video from the Sept. 16 meeting. “I did not want to print my results at that time because I thought it would cause some issues within the community. So I waited.”
In his report, Gliatta issued a conservative finding, claiming that a few of the punches thrown by Martinez were within policy.
“It is my opinion punches four through seven were not within policy, however only the sixth punch actually made contact with the (Wallace’s) chin,” Gliatta wrote. “The remaining punches made minimal contact with (Wallace) and thus were inconsequential. I believe this portion of the allegation warranted a finding of sustained.”
Many who watched the video will claim that none of the punches were within policy and some took to Twitter to point this out.
“If punches 1-3 are within policy then the policy needs to be rewritten #fresno #PoliceBrutality,” Fresno State sociology professor Justin Sean Myers tweeted. We agree.
In what looks like a scene out of 1930s Germany, over a dozen Fresno police department cops are seen on body camera footage raiding an apartment complex. They were looking for a single individual who may have been in violation of probation, so they detained an entire party and searched everyone.
They demand everyone get out of their homes and sit on the floor, treating everyone like criminals as they allegedly searched the apartment for this person. Wallace has no ties to gangs and has never received so much as a traffic ticket.
"Attention, apartment 204, this is the Fresno Police Department. If you're inside make your presence known," and officer can be heard yelling over a bullhorn.
At this point, Wallace — who hadn't done anything wrong — was being frisked and told to sit down. As he backs up and tries to comply with the officer's order, he apparently didn't move fast enough for the tyrant cop who then shoved him.
Wallace pulled back his arm when the cop shoved him once more, which made the officer snap.
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Officer Martinez then started punching Wallace in the face, over and over. As the video shows, Wallace is pleading with the officers to stop hitting him as he is not resisting and simply trying to cover his face from the punches.
As the officers pile their weight on top of Wallace, the teen cannot get off of his own arm. He tries telling the cops this, but they do not listen and instead respond with more blows to the face. Once Wallace is handcuffed, he is left crying, bleeding from his mouth, nose, and forehead.
Martinez would go on to justify this abuse and subsequent beat down by writing in his report that he thought Wallace was going to try to run away.
He would then charge Wallace with resisting arrest. Case closed.
However, an attorney hired by Wallace's family to pursue legal action against the Fresno police department says the video shows the reason police gave for the violence was false. And he was right. After watching the video, prosecutors dropped all the charges.
"It's a very disappointing situation. You can see London Wallace crying. You can see him bleeding," said attorney Nolan Kane.
"He's a high school kid. He likes playing basketball. He's a nice, calm, timid person," Kane said. "And you can kind of see that in the video. He's not used to police contact."
Legal analyst Ralph Torres told ABC 7 that this type of force by police officers is often justified as a means of "officer safety."
"But in this case, the kid was patted down. There was nothing there," Torres told ABC 7. "And I don't see anything that was consistent with an officer basically putting his fist right through his face."
Predictably, as it is their job to defend all cops no matter how violent and criminal their actions, the police union disagrees. President of the Fresno Police Officers Association Todd Fraizer said the video doesn’t tell the whole story and Martinez had to escalate to the point that he began punching an innocent teen in the face — for officer safety.
“They have officers standing there, people seated all around them. They are at a big time disadvantage, and they’re still pulling people out of the apartment, and they still don’t know what inside that apartment. Are there more people? Are they potentially armed?” said Fraizer.
But he completely failed to mention that beating a child in front of multiple compliant people would do more to endanger the safety of officers than secure it.
Despite the body camera footage, it still took 18 months for the review board to point out that it was excessive force.
“It is a little concerning that it took 18 months to come to that conclusion. I don’t know how much money or how many resources were needed to do that when any rational person looking at that video for 30 seconds can come up with that conclusion,” Kane said. We agree.