WATCH: $1 Million Settlement For Son of James “Nate” Greer Murdered by Police


The city of Hayward and BART have agreed to collectively pay more than $1 million to settle a wrongful death suit alleging police unnecessarily restrained and tased a man with a known medical condition until he lost consciousness.

The city of Hayward agreed in December to provide the bulk of the payout, or just over $995,000, with BART expected to kick in an additional $75,000. BART agreed to the settlement in April, but a spokeswoman for the agency said it has not yet been signed by all parties.

Neither BART nor the city of Hayward admitted any guilt in the settlement, but the fact that they agreed to pay the family indicates officials there knew something was wrong, said Fulvio Cajina, who helped represent Joseph Greer, the son of James “Nate” Greer in the suit.

A spokesman for the city of Hayward, however, said many factors go into a decision to settle a lawsuit, and it would be incorrect to interpret the settlement as an admission of guilt. Representatives for BART said the agency would not comment until all parties had signed the agreement.

James Greer went out to buy a lottery ticket the night of May 23, 2014, his family said, when three officers in a patrol car signaled for him to pull over on suspicion of driving under the influence. Body camera footage of the incident shows him complying with the officers’ commands, stepping out of the car and following an officer’s finger as he passed it in front of his face for a field sobriety test.

The officer then asked James Greer to go to the passenger side of the vehicle for another sobriety test, where he was asked to balance with his feet together, head titled back and eyes closed.

“I have to ask if you have any medical conditions,” the officer asked James Greer, who told him that he has a ruptured hernia in his abdomen.

James Greer began to perform the test, but doesn’t appear to complete it before more officers arrive, and James Greer gets increasingly afraid.

“I don’t understand. I don’t understand. What are you guys doing to me?” he asked before the officers took a step toward him and appeared to attempt to grab his arm.

The interaction escalates quickly from there, with several officers grabbing James Greer and forcing him to the ground, where four officers sit on his arms and legs and a fifth officer kneels onto his back, including one BART officer. James Greer can be heard screaming out in pain, pleading with the officers to get off of him as he is tased three times.

“Shut the f— up, dude,” one officer says, while another says, “Just relax.”

The officers restrained James Greer in a WRAP, a full-body restraint made by a Walnut Creek company before rolling him onto his back and asking, “Are you alright?” But, there is no response.

“He’s unconscious,” one officer says, while another props him up into a seated position on the ground.

Then, seven minutes lapse before any medical professionals treat James Greer. And, that, more than anything, is where the officers went wrong, Cajina said.

“Our allegation was that when they flipped him over, at that point, the officers should have done something; they should have immediately started CPR,” Cajina said, continuing, “When you give someone CPR, you put them on their back. So, when you sit someone up, who is unconscious, that’s exactly what you do not want to do.”

James Greer’s son, Joseph, declined to comment on the settlement, but his former wife, Deana Greer, said the past few years have been incredibly difficult for both of them. It’s been especially difficult for her son, now 23, who was very close to his father.

“It’s been hard; it’s been really tough,” she said. “It’s more than the incident it’s how to move on from there.”

What has been helpful, she said, is reaching out to other families who have gone through similar situations. Unlike deaths from car accidents or other unexpected events, Deana Greer said she is still having trouble wrapping her mind around the manner in which her former husband died.

“It’s the ‘who,’” she said, referring to the fact that James Greer was in police custody when he died. “When you see he is sitting there for over seven minutes, they know he’s not breathing and they know he’s turning blue — they even say it in the video — and they don’t give him any assistance.”

She continued, “These are police, and they are supposed to help us. It was like they were just heartless. And that’s the hard part for us.”

Asked if the department gleaned any lessons from James Greer’s death, Chuck Finnie, a spokesman for the city of Hayward, said the city’s police department has not altered its policies in any way. Of the 11 Hayward officers named in the suit, all, except one who retired, are still with the department.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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