A videotaped confrontation with police officers in Moreno Valley, Calif. ended with one man dead while in police custody after he sat outside a Burger King.
Raymond Johnson, 41, sat in his car outside the restaurant’s drive-thru window Friday after purchasing a milkshake, according to a Burger King employee. Witnesses say Johnson was acting erratically inside his car, throwing money and food out the window, Press Enterprise reports.
The Burger King employee described Johnson’s eyes as being “glassy, like he was under the influence or mentally ill” and his demeanor was nervous looking.
“Not that he was going to do anything to us, but that he knew he was supposed to move but his body and mind weren’t working right,” the anonymous employee said.
Police arrived and found Johnson in his car blocking the drive-thru window. Officers tried to talk to Johnson to get him out of the car but he wouldn't budge, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s office.
Cell phone footage shot from a distance by a witness shows an officer reaching into Johnson’s car and striking him with what looks like a baton. After, five to six officers surround the vehicle, with one officer climbing on the hood and repeatedly kicking into the passenger seat. A witness can be heard asking, “Are they stomping on his head?”
Authorities say Johnson stopped breathing after he was taken into custody and was pronounced dead an hour later. A coroner’s report released found that Johnson suffered from an oversized heart, and that while he had sustained abrasions from the struggle, those injuries were not life-threatening.
Johnson’s mother, Diania Rivas said her son was a good-hearted man who would not have fought the officers, according to the Press Enterprise.
“I’m sure his hands were on the steering wheel of the car,” Rivas said. “He would not fight a cop ever because he had too many run-ins with them. He probably just didn’t move fast enough for them.”
Rivas said her son had a criminal record for drug related charges, but no violent crimes. She said the police had it in for Johnson.
“They stopped him for everything,” she said. “He could be in somebody else’s car and they would stop that car.”
Johnson’s widow, Lawanda Johnson, is confused as to what led to Johnson's demise.
“My biggest question is what happened? I stand here today a widow with no answers,” Lawanda told KABC-TV. “What led up to that, what makes you do that? He’s one person; there’s many of you… I just need answers.”
Raw footage of the confrontation can be seen below.
Sources: KABC-TV, Press Enterprise, You Tube