’I think she’s out,’ deputy says after violent arrest

Christopher Weber/Associated Press | 8/19/2021, 6 p.m.
A woman who pulled off a road to change drivers during a trip with her father and three young children ...

A woman who pulled off a road to change drivers during a trip with her father and three young children was knocked unconscious and arrested by two Northern California sheriff’s deputies, who then lied about the encounter to responding paramedics and on official reports, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Body cameras worn by the deputies with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office recorded them pulling guns on Nakia Porter before slamming her to the pavement while handcuffing her along a rural road in the town of Dixon, Calif., on the night of Aug. 6, 2020. Ms. Porter’s father, Joe Powell, also was placed in handcuffs and briefly detained.

Ms. Porter was jailed over- night on suspicion of resisting arrest, but never charged. She said the ordeal was confusing and dehumanizing.

“I was doing my best to do everything right, giving no reason to be treated like this,” said Ms. Porter, 33, who is Black.

The lawsuit brought by attorney Yasin Almadani accuses the deputies of violating state and federal civil rights statutes by engaging in “unlawful seizure, assault and excessive force.”

“Thankfully, the video evi-dence contradicted the fabricated facts,” Mr. Almadani said. “So what occurred here, we believe, was a racially motivated beating and terrorizing of a Black family.”

Solano County sheriff’s officials did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment on the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The lawsuit asks a judge to order a jury trial for the arresting deputies, Dalton McCampbell and Lisa McDowell, and seeks unspecified damages.

The events unfolded as Ms. Porter and her 61-year-old father were making the 100-mile drive home to Orangevale, Calif., northeast of Sacramento, after a family trip to Oakland. Her two daughters, ages 3 and 6, and her 4-year-old niece were in the back seat.

Ms. Porter was behind the wheel when they stopped along an empty road in Dixon.

The deputies’ squad car pulled up behind them with lights flashing. Ms. Porter already was out of the car and explained that they were just switching drivers and would be on their way, according to the court filing.

Deputy McCampbell, who had his gun drawn, ordered Ms. Porter back to the driver’s side, and he and his partner moved to detain her, according to edited bodycam footage acquired by Mr. Almadani and provided to The Associated Press. Mr. Almadani acquired more than 18 minutes of raw footage through a California Public Records Act request, and edited it down to just under 10 minutes.

“For those that are listening, I am not resisting,” Ms. Porter said to the deputies’ cameras. “You are not reading me my rights.”

The deputies pushed Ms. Porter against the squad car and then to the pavement while trying to handcuff her.

“Put your hands behind your back. Get on your stomach,” Deputy McCampbell shouted.

The footage gets very shaky, and it’s hard to see whether Ms. Porter is resisting. Ms. Porter and the court filing allege the deputies punched her in the head and the stomach, kneeled on her back and pulled her hair. She said she passed out seconds after the deputies closed the handcuffs.

“I think she’s out,” Deputy McCampbell said on the video.

Ms. Porter, who is 5-foot-2 and 125 pounds, said she was dragged unconscious to the back of the squad car, where she came to about five minutes later.

The lawsuit accuses the deputies of lying on their arrest reports about Ms. Porter fighting them and the length of time she was unconscious.

The suit also names a superior officer who signed off on the reports.