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Indybay Feature

Rally and Vigil at Lake Merritt BART: Justice for James "Nate" Greer

Friday, November 18, 2016
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Type:
Justice for James "Nate" Greer
Location Details:
Lake Merritt BART Station, Oakland

Justice for James ‘Nate’ Greer NOW

On May 23, 2014, Nate Greer, dedicated husband and father, died at the hands of the Hayward Police Department during a routine DUI traffic stop. What began as a routine sobriety test would suddenly become a horrible tragedy for Nate when several officers from the Hayward Police Department and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department took it upon themselves without probable cause to physically manhandle him.

Several of the police officers aggressively wrestled Nate to the ground, roughly pulling his limbs behind his body, along with several law enforcement officers physically crushing Nate with their entire body weight pressure while he lay on his stomach helpless and unable to move. They proceeded to place Nate into a straightjacket-like restraint device after he had been tasered multiple times.

The law enforcement officers continued to lay on top of Nate’s body, holding him down on the ground for a prolonged period. After several minutes passed, they noticed that Nate was unconscious with breathing trouble, however they continued to put the restraints onto him. As Nate lay there for nearly seven minutes struggling to breathe, the police officers did nothing as they chose not to perform any CPR on Nate nor did they untie him from the restraints so that the arriving EMT personnel at the scene could immediately provide him life saving emergency care.

While our black and brown communities throughout the Bay Area, in California, across the nation and throughout the world continue to be plagued by police brutality, Nate’s murder by law enforcement in Hayward, California had gone virtually unnoticed two years ago in May 2014, having been intentionally silenced in the mainstream TV/radio news media up until the release of a video from a police cam worn on one of the BART police officers, depicting the incident of a defenseless Nate struggling to breathe.

Nearly two years to the day of Nate’s murder by the police, on May 21, 2016, a video of the incident surfaced, which documented the sequence of actions filmed by BART Police body cameras that led to Nate’s untimely death. The video clearly exhibited that Nate was no threat to the police. In the video, although Nate never displayed any aggression of any sort toward the police officers, he could be heard asking numerous times for the officers to get off of him, followed by agonizing screams for a few minutes before losing consciousness.

Here’s the script from the body cam video of the incident that had gone unnoticed for more than a year, which has now brought much-needed attention to Nate’s death while he was in police custody:

The video shows Nate cooperating and not being combative, communicating with the officer about his medical conditions that may affect his ability to perform a roadside sobriety test.

Nate begins to perform the test, placing his feet together and holding his head back with his eyes closed when he notices a second cop standing to his right.

Suddenly, Nate appears afraid, telling Police Officer #1 in front of him..

Nate: “What are you guys going to do to me? I don’t understand, I don’t understand.”

Police Officer #1 (replies): “I’m testing your balance to see how much you had to drink tonight,”

Nate (responds): “I haven’t drank nothing,”

Police Officer #1: “I’m trying to give you a field sobriety test,”

Nate takes a step to his left.

Police Officer #1: (suddenly grabbing Nate’s wrist): “Don’t be walking away from me!”

Nate (asking the Officer in a worried voice tone): “Hey, what are you guys doing to me?”

Immediately, several other police officers begin physically grabbing onto Nate’s body.

Police Officer #2: (with his arm grasped around Nate’s neck): “Relax.”

Immediately, the police officers quickly knock Nate to the ground, laying Nate onto his back.

Nate (repeating in a winded-sounding voice tone): “What are you doing???”

More Hayward police officers joined by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers proceed to roll Nate over onto his stomach, ordering him to place his hands behind his back, however it appeared that Nate was trying to use his hands to keep his face from being smashed into the ground.

The police officers then proceed to taser Nate several times before managing to get one of his hands into handcuffs while ordering him to place his other hand behind his back – all while several police officers are physically piled on top of him with their total body weight.

The police officers kept telling Nate to “relax” even though it would be impossible to relax in that situation, feeling asphyxiated by the weight of the several police officers who were laying on top him as one of the police officers shoved Nate’s head into the asphalt as he continued to breathe heavy, asking why were they treating him that way while attempting to position his head to where he could breathe.

After ten minutes into the traffic stop, Nate had relaxed to the point where he was no longer moving or speaking.

But the police officers still continued to keep their bodies piled on top of Nate with one police officer still holding Nate’s head down with his hand.

Police Officer #3: “You’re doing all right bro?…“Just take a deep breath.”

But by this time, it appeared Nate had stopped breathing…

Police Officer #4 (after rolling a now unconscious Nate back over onto his back): “He’s unconscious.”

At this point, all of the police officers got off of Nate’s body, about ten police officers in all, each of them asking the other if they were okay, laughing and joking about what an intense struggle they had just gone through, comparing scratches on each other’s arms, hands and elbows.

Another Police Officer (who had been laying on top of Nate’s body) then tells Nate’s lifeless body to “wake up!”

BART Police Officer with the body cam on (asks his BART Police Supervisor): “I’m rolling by the way, want me to turn it off?”

BART Police Supervisor: “Yeah, that’s fine,”

At this point, the BART Police Officer’s body cam is shut off.

However in October 2015, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California by Greer’s son, Joseph James against both the Hayward Police Department and the BART Police Department. Nate’s family and community members continue to demand answers as to why no investigation had ever been conducted by the Hayward Police Department or at the District Attorney of Alameda County’s Office following the brutal actions and subsequent neglect inflicted upon Nate by both the Hayward Police Department and the BART Police Department.
Added to the calendar on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 9:18AM
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