Video from jail altercation prompts reaction

May 14, 2010 8:19:50 AM PDT
A new video shows lots of cops restraining a suspect. Is it police misconduct or necessary force? One thing is clear: You'll only see the video here.

This is something we don't normally get to see -- what happens when a drunk driving suspect refuses to give his blood to police.

But there's a video inside the Pasadena jail, last July. Nine cops will get in the action.

"It almost looks like each officer that runs through the door is wanting to get a piece of the action, more so than stopping to look and see if their assistance is even needed," defense attorney Jim Medley said.

"They were beating on this guy excessively, stomping his broke leg," Defense Attorney Sam Cammack said. "He was basically begging for mercy."

It's video that's creating more tension.

"It looks like police held a whoop-a-black-man party that was held and sponsored by law enforcement officers," Community Activist Quanell X said.

Curtis Nelson was questioned by Houston police after a traffic wreck that wasn't his fault. The Houston police officer doesn't do a full sobriety test. Instead, Nelson is taken to the Pasadena jail. With a search warrant, his blood will be drawn there whether he likes it or not.

You hear Nelson begging for another way.

"Can I do a sobriety test?" he says in the video.

''He's been afraid of needles since he was old enough to talk," said Nelson's attorney.

But the cops will try to put him in the restraint chair, and Curtis Nelson doesn't want to go.

"This is what happens to citizens, that people don't get to see all the time, if you say, 'I don't want you to draw blood,'" Cammack said.

"We got a fighter," you hear an officer saying in the video.

One officer will grab him around the neck, and he'll be taken to the floor. Then a total of nine officers join in.

"You got nine officers on one man who's got a broke leg, who's already on the ground," Quanell X said. "You can see one officer clearly kneeing the young man as he was lying down on the ground, kneeing him on his side; then you saw him punching him at the same time."

One officer appears to step on Nelson's broken leg. You hear at least one officer using profanity.

The officers tell him to stop resisting.

"'Stop resisting' was nothing more than stage rhetoric to justify what they were doing to him," Quanell X said.

The male nurse positions himself right between two chairs in the middle of the room, maybe just a coincidence that it blocked a full camera view of the incident; maybe not.

"I don't care if he was black, green, red, but it makes you pause to think that this would have happened to a 16-year-old white female," Cammack said.

After he's restrained, Nelson is not put back in the chair to get the needle. The nurse sticks him right there on the ground.

"Why would you just take a needle and ram it in somebody's arm on a dirty, dusty floor inside of a jail, which is not one of the cleanest places anybody could be in," Quanell X said.

A judge threw out the needle results this week after lawyers argued it was done with excessive force and in unsanitary conditions.

But they now want you to see what happened to Curtis Nelson.

Coming after the Tolan verdict and the suspension of eight Houston cops for an alleged beating, this video won't help calm tensions.

"This city is on the verge of erupting in a full scale riot against police officers," Quanell X said.

We reached out to Pasadena police tonight, and they couldn't comment until Friday.

But you can see the entire incident caught on camera -- from the DWI questioning on the street to the action in the jail.

The DA's office tells us Nelson was intoxicated because blood alcohol content was 1.9.

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