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California Transgender Man's Violent Arrest Questioned After Video Release

California Transgender Man's Violent Arrest Questioned After Video Release

Officer tackling trans man

The video calls into question the police's official version of events.

A newly released surveillance video has called into question the violent arrest of a transgender man in California by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy earlier this year.

Brock Emmett, a 23-year-old school teacher, was arrested and initially charged with three felonies for the incident that took place on February 10, but a new video provided to the LA Times appears to disprove the official version of events.

Even though the three felonies were later reduced to two misdemeanors, Emmett still lost his job as a teacher. Now he’s fighting back saying the video proves he was the victim of police abuse and misconduct.

The arresting officer, Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Benza, claimed he pulled over Emmett because of an illegal air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror and that he only punched Emmett repeatedly and bashed his head into the pavement because Emmett bit him and because he feared for his own safety. However, a medical expert determined the only injury of note suffered by Benza during the assault was a fractured hand described as a “punching injury” by Emmett’s attorney.

Emmett told the LA Times was driving home from work when he saw a deputy by the side of the road engaged in a heated discussion with a woman. Still upset about a fellow coworker who had harassed him because of his sexual identity earlier that day, Emmet said he flipped his middle finger at the deputy, doubting the officer would see it. Within moments, though, he was being followed by a sheriff’s cruiser.

Emmett said he called 911 to confirm the cruiser was following him, but the dispatcher questioned the reason for his call as Emmett had not been stopped. When Emmett pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store, the sheriff followed him and used his vehicle to block him into the parking space. Surveillance video from the convenience store synched with the deputy’s own recordings showed Emmett calmly asking what is happening when the deputy confronted him and then attacked.

“You’re going to kill me,” Emmett can be heard screaming in the video as Benza body slams him into the ground and pounds his head into the asphalt. “You’re going to f*ck*ng kill me. Help! Help! Help!”

“He just kept saying, ‘Stop resisting, stop resisting,’” Emmett told the LA Times. “I didn’t understand why he was shouting that because I wasn’t resisting.”

In his 11-page report of the arrest – which made no mention of Emmett’s use of the middle finger – Benza wrote he was concerned about “safety issues” and that didn’t know if Emmett had any “contraband items” hidden in his car during the confrontation.

He claimed he only grew violent when Emmett “cocked his right hand back into a fist, indicative of someone about to throw a punch.” He also claimed Emmett “continuously tried to bite” him throughout the arrest, but that he was able to subdue after punching Emmett in quick succession.

“My punches had their intended effect,” Benza concluded.

Emmett also claims he underwent a humiliating genital exam to prove he was a trans man, but was still housed with female prisoners.

The video does not appear to support Benza’s main accusations, but instead appears to show he was the aggressor and attacked Emmett without provocation or warning.

“The video speaks for itself. He was pounding at the kid’s head,” Brock’s attorney Thomas Beck told the Los Angeles Blade. “He was diagnosed with a concussion later after he was released. This guy committed multiple felonies against my client, and he’s gotten away with it so far.”

Editor's note: The below video may be difficult to watch for some viewers.

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