Kansas City resident Mack Nelson said he remembers the days he used to trust police officers. As a kid, he recalls they’d give him high fives, baseball cards and bubble gum.
But in a Monday interview with The Star, with his face numb after receiving several stitches from where his head hit the pavement, he said he feels differently now. Nelson doesn’t remember much about the early morning hours of Aug. 8, but a bystander does.
The interaction between Nelson and an officer in a gas station parking lot near East 55th Street and Prospect Avenue was caught on tape by Steve Young, who was standing a few yards away.
‘They probably slammed his head on the ground’
Young, the co-founder of the , arrived at the scene after , 31, was shot and killed driving toward officers in an SUV that had been reported stolen. Young’s group, KC LEAP, aims to hold officers accountable in excessive force situations.
Young said he and other group members survey police shooting investigations, connect with family members, and point those who believe they’ve been a victim of excessive force to the proper legal channels.
His phone was out and recording when an officer threw Nelson to the ground.
“He wasn’t doing nothing to them,” Young can be heard yelling in the background. “They probably slammed his head on the ground.”
The video shows Nelson on the ground for several minutes, lying down at first, then sitting. Young said at first, he was unconscious, bleeding from his head.
“It was really upsetting to see that, because it just came out of nowhere, and this guy wasn’t being a threat to them,” Young said. “Maybe he said something that hurt the police’s feelings, but that doesn’t give you the reason to body slam somebody … He never put his hands on the police at all.”
After trying to sit him up and giving him towels for his head, paramedics are shown loading Nelson into an ambulance.
Before then, Young said he saw Nelson also videoing the officers. A female officer asked Nelson to back up, according to Young. Then, another officer came over to Nelson.
“Next thing you know, he picks the guy up and slams him right on his head, and knocks the guy out cold,” Young said in an interview with The Star.
The video rolls for several minutes as Young discusses the situation with other bystanders.
“Somebody could’ve just walked over there and talked to the dude and said, ‘Hey, let’s walk over here,’” he said. “Do something to try to deescalate it.”
‘They need to be held accountable’
Nelson was at the gas station when Garrard was shot and was asked to remain inside while officers processed the scene.
After a while, Nelson said they were told they could leave. He walked outside and immediately entered the crime scene.
Nelson said he began to take videos of the officers for Facebook Live because he was upset the officers had shot someone and weren’t thoroughly questioning the witnesses. Nelson said he was making comments to the officers while he was filming, and they didn’t appreciate it.
He then remembers being asked to step outside the police tape, but he doesn’t remember the officer in the video who threw him down.
Nelson’s attorney, John Picerno, said his client’s hands are obviously behind his back. He even appears cuffed, Picerno said, clearly not resisting arrest.
“There’s no doubt what I’ve witnessed in that video is a criminal assault,” Picerno said. “We’re hoping that the officers involved, or at least the primary officer, is dealt with, and is charged, and we make sure that he can’t do this to any other type of citizen.”
Nelson remembers waking up in jail. He was ticketed with disorderly conduct, trespass, and obstructing or resisting police.
Nelson said what happened may leave a permanent scar – both emotional and physical. He still feels numbness on the side of his face.
“They need to be held accountable,” Nelson said. “When you sign up for a job, no matter what job you got, it’s gonna come with its ups and downs … but you can’t act out your frustrations, especially being a police officer.”
There is no pending lawsuit for Nelson’s case. However, Picerno hopes the officer will be charged, and Nelson will be compensated for his injuries.