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Black cowboy claims ‘hothead’ Richmond police sergeant, officer unlawfully pinned him to ground for filming arrest


RICHMOND — A Black cowboy from Richmond on Wednesday announced the filing of a legal claim against the city, alleging its police officers violently threw him to the ground and pinned him there in apparent retaliation for filming them and talking back to a sergeant.

Kwesi Guss said the officers left him with head trauma, bruised ribs and back pain from the May 5 encounter, which came as Guss filmed officers while they arrested someone else at the end of a high-speed chase, according to the legal claim. Such claims typically lay the groundwork for lawsuits against a government entity.

The officers’ actions were “simply outrageous,” said Guss’ attorney, John Burris, in a statement announcing the legal claim. It alleges numerous misdeeds, including assault, battery, false imprisonment and violations of Guss’ right to free speech and assembly.

Burris specifically took aim at the first officer to confront the cowboy, saying he acted “like an out-of-control hothead.”

“There was nothing Mr. Guss did that justified the police conduct toward him,” Burris said. “Cowboy Kwesi was lawfully exercising his rights to film the police and to respond to a police officer acting unlawfully and abusively verbally.”

The injuries that Guss suffered that night have since affected his job as a professional cowboy, including his ability to train horses, ride in rodeos and give children horseback riding lessons, the claim said. Guss is expected to speak at a press conference planned for Wednesday afternoon in Richmond.

A police spokesperson did not immediately return a message from this news organization seeking comment on the legal claim.

The encounter happened around 10:10 p.m. on May 5 outside a convenience store at Macdonald Avenue and 1st Street, shortly after Guss pulled out his phone and began recording officers who were arresting someone accused of leading them on a high-speed chase.

A video released by Guss’ attorneys showed Sgt. Alexander Caine yelling at Guss to “get out of the f—ing way,” before pushing him. When Guss replied “Shut yo’ b— ass up,” Caine could be seen doing an about-face and immediately running back to Guss, asking “What was that?” before pushing him at least three times and yelling “get out the way” and “back the f— up.”

Guss repeatedly told Caine to stop touching him and at one point pushed back, according to the legal claim and a news release issued Wednesday by Guss’ attorneys.

The shoving appeared to briefly stop when a woman got between the two men. Yet moments later, a second officer approached and together, Cain and Officer Nicholas Remick handcuffed Guss, kicked one of his ankles and forced him to the ground, the legal claim alleged. The officers then placed their knees on his back and ribs and pushed his face into the ground, the claim said.

Guss was held by police on suspicion of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest, but he was released an hour later, according to the claim. Contra Costa County court records do not show any active criminal case against Guss stemming from the incident, suggesting charges have not been filed.

Later that night at an emergency room, doctors diagnosed Guss with a head injury, lower back pain, wrist pain, rib bruising and acute stress disorder, according to the claim.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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