It’s been more than three months since the George Floyd protests, and at long last, the San Jose Police Department has released its hindsight analysis detailing law enforcement’s response to ten days worth of “civil unrest.”
The document—known as an after-action report—and a slew of potential policy recommendations, will be discussed at Tuesday’s virtual City Council meeting.
Its accounts are written from SJPD’s “operational point of view,” according to SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia. A separate report by the Independent Police Auditor’s Office will be released at a later date and is expected to include a broader community perspective.
SJPD’s analysis identifies five key findings.
- A lack of training and experience
- Insufficient staffing
- A need to review certain policies and protocols
- Insufficient equipment
- Poor media relations.
Although the department has handled protests in the past, the George Floyd protests were an “unprecedented event” for SJPD, according to the agency.
“Commanders were challenged by the sheer numbers of protesters, the violence committed from within the crowd, and the duration of the daily demonstrations,” the report explains. “The trials of these events severely taxed the physical and mental well-being of the responding officers.”
The 243-page document starts by detailing the days leading up to San Jose’s protests, which were triggered by the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed at the knee of a Minneapolis cop.
SJPD received numerous “intelligence bulletins” from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) “warning of criminal activity, looting and crowd violence erupting from initially peaceful protests occurring throughout the country,” before the first local protest on May 29. The bulletins also warned protests were being infiltrated by political extremists, domestic terrorist groups and organized looters.
On May 28, SJPD’s special investigations unit discovered a flyer online for a protest the following day at San Jose City Hall. According to the report, the department sprung into action, making a plan with three goals: manage the crowd, protect First Amendment rights and ensure “the safety of persons and property around the event.”
From there, the report details protestors’ actions the following days, including some high-profile incidents, such as the man who was pulled behind the police line and beaten, Officer Jared Yuen’s use of profane language and implicit bias trainer Derrick Sanderlin being shot in the groin.
SJPD documented ten injuries to protestors in police reports and news stories, including a swelling open wound on the cheek, swelling to the right eye, bruising on the back and a small cut to the left hand. But more people could have been injured, the report notes, as officers were unable to document all injuries protestors sustained.
In contrast, SJPD reported 181 officers being struck more than 200-documented objects including water bottles, rocks, paint and glass bottles.
“As a result of the violence over the course of the first few days, numerous officers sustained injuries ranging from minor to more significant,” the report said, noting that of that of the 181 officers hit with objects, 36 were injured. Of those, two were taken to the hospital, one for a facial injury and concussion and the other for a knee injury. Photos of officers’ bruised legs accompanied details of the injuries.
No photos, however, were provided of injuries of protestors, despite it being well-documented across social media. San Jose Planning Commissioner Peter Allen was one of the many demonstrators that displayed his severely bruised thigh on Twitter after he was hit by a foam rubber baton round that went astray.
— Peter Allen (@pjallen2) June 4, 2020
Protestors and other community members expressed their dismay about the “militarization” of the SJPD during and following the demonstrations. Many cited concerns with officer’s use of tear gas, which has been banned in wars but is allowed by many police departments across the U.S. Some protesters complained about officers wearing “riot gear,” saying it increased tensions as cops appeared ready for battle.
The report, however, defended the department’s garb, which it said were actually “utility uniforms,” often worn during inclement weather.
Officers were also supplied with helmets and face shields since “it is a common occurrence during episodes of civil unrest, that officers are targeted with rocks and bottles and other heavy items that could cause serious injury or death.”
Officers also carried a gas mask and a 42-inch baton, which is commonly used in crowd control situations.
“The extended length of the baton allows officers to use a variety of movements designed to move people away from officers and direct their movements,” the report said. “It is also used as an impact weapon in the event force becomes necessary.”
To read the full report, click here.