For people who damn near use, “I was in fear for my life” as a catchphrase whenever they need to justify deadly use of force, cops don’t seem to understand that citizens—especially Black people—can be afraid and act out of fear, too.
Earlier this month, 18-year-old Zekee Rayford was arrested in Schertz, Texas, after police said he ran a red light and failed to pull over. Rayford reportedly drove to his parents’ house instead of stopping immediately. In video footage taken from the doorbell security camera of Rayford’s parents’ home, the teen can be seen knocking at the door and shouting for his father just before officers tased him, tackled him to the ground and kicked him repeatedly. On Wednesday, after previously denying open records requests to release body camera and dashcam footage from the Nov. 2 arrest, the city released 20 videos related to the incident. Schertz officials said they were waiting on authorization from the Guadalupe County District Attorney’s Office to release the footage.
KENS 5 reports that officers said on the night of Rayford’s arrest, that the teen had run a red light and didn’t pull over until he got to a home about a mile away from where they began the traffic stop. Rayford’s parents said he simply wanted to get to a “safe place” before pulling over so he drove until he got to their driveway.
According to KENS, the newly released footage shows Rayford exiting his car with his hands up and running towards his parents’ house while officers chased after him.
KENS 5 went through the new footage released by the city that show the moments leading up to the arrest and the aftermath of the incident. In one of the videos from one officer’s point of view, officers are heard yelling commands to Rayford several times to cooperate with them.
“Stop resisting! You’re under arrest right now. Do you understand that? Turn the [expletive] around and put your hands behind your back,” said one of the officers.
After his father answered the door, one of the officers is hear telling him, “You better relax or you’re going to get it next, I promise you, you will.”
Another officer who responds to the incident spoke with Rayford’s father who asks why police tased his son when he got to the door.
“He’s running. He’s committing a felony by fleeing a police officer. And by fleeing on foot, he’s committing another crime. Evading on foot,” he says in response.
In another video, Rayford is handcuffed and sitting in the back of a patrol unit. He says that he doesn’t want to talk to officers and asks if an officer is going to shoot him. He’s heard in the video saying he felt uncomfortable.
“You should have stopped, right?” asks one officer. “But yeah, it was still unnecessary though,” replies Rayford.
Other videos show the tension between Rayford’s family members and officers after the arrest. The family members are outside of their home and they continue to argue with police. At one point, you can see Rayford’s father approaching another officer.
“He’s coming aggressive towards my officer,” says the officer in the video. “Get him in the house. We’re done. Get him in the house.”
So just a quick recap: Officers see a teen who is clearly afraid of them knocking at a door and repeatedly shouting, “dad” and still feel the need to use the force they used taking him down. An officer then threatens to do the same to his understandably upset father. Then a cop gets shook seeing the father—who, again, is understandably upset—”coming aggressive towards my officer.” All of that fear and nervousness on full display, but they don’t understand how a Black teenager might have been afraid enough to keep driving until he got to his parents’ house and then run to their door.
Anyway, according to KSAT Local News, Schertz Mayor Ralph Gutierrez released the following statement:
“I fully understand the concerns and public outcry brought about from this incident. The City of Schertz is an inclusive community and one that celebrates all of our residents. My hope is that in every interaction with the City, residents feel respected, valued, and understood. Throughout every situation, the City is deeply committed to doing what’s right and at this time, the right thing to do is be as transparent as we can, which is why we are releasing this footage.”
KENS reports that three officers involved in the incident have been taken off patrol and reassigned pending an internal affairs investigation into the arrest which officials said is underway. According to TMZ, Rayford was charged with felony evading in a motor vehicle, resisting arrest, and possession of marijuana.