Video Shows Crowd Yelling Criticism at Police Using K9, Foam Bullets on Man in Long Beach

A video of Long Beach police forcibly arresting a man in Belmont Shore Sunday night shows bystanders yelling out criticism at officers as they shoot foam bullets and release a K9 to help take the man into custody.

In the video, some members of a small crowd insist the man did nothing wrong, but police officials and an independent expert came to the officers’ defense, saying their decision to use force was justified.

The footage, which contains profanity and some violence, captures a few minutes of a standoff between officers and the man, who has his pants down and his hands on his head.

During the standoff, one woman shouts at officers, telling them to leave the man alone as others in the crowd announce they’re videotaping.

Moments later, police fire large-caliber less-lethal foam rounds at the man and release the dog, prompting yells and insults from some onlookers.

“What did he do wrong?” one person asks.

The Long Beach Police Department praised its officers for how they handled the situation.

“Officers did a remarkable job de-escalating the situation and used less-lethal force to end the situation as peacefully as possible,” Johnson said. “The outcome could have been much different based on the suspect’s actions. The video does not capture the entire incident.”

After the man is in custody, the video shows police explaining to the small crowd that someone called them to say he’d been pointing a gun at people.

According to Johnson, that gun turned out to be a fake.

He said police first headed to the scene around 7:25 p.m. Sunday after getting a call that a man was in the street pointing a gun at passing motorists near the intersection of Second Street and Bay Shore Avenue, which is near a busy stretch of restaurants and bars in Belmont Shore.

In a the description of the video posted on Youtube, the poster, Jeff Blackmon, said he watched the situation unfold for about half an hour.

He said the man was not armed and that he took off his pants to show officers he wasn’t hiding a gun.

Police, however, said they found a replica firearm after arresting the man, who they later identified as Joel Peterson, a 42-year-old Long Beach resident.

The Press-Telegram couldn’t immediately reach Blackmon, but in the video description he questions whether it was overkill to fire the foam rounds and release the dog.

“I wasn’t yelling at the cops like some of the people in the crowd but I thought the cops totally overreacted,” Blackmon said in a Youtube comment.

But Jim Bueermann, a retired police chief from Redlands who now runs a research nonprofit called the Police Foundation, said he thinks the officers’ decision to use force was reasonable based on the situation and the man’s actions.

“It’s obvious that he’s not being fully cooperative with them,” Bueermann said. “He wants to debate them.”

Officers were clearly trying to get the man onto his knees and likely prone on the ground so they could handcuff him, according to Bueermann.

The video shows the man starting to kneel down twice, but then he gets up. He also has his hands on his head during most of the footage.

It’s unclear from the video exactly what prompted officers to fire the less-lethal rounds because the man passes out of view just before officers pull the trigger, Bueermann said.

Because they thought the man had a gun, officers would have been very concerned with what the man was doing with his hands, according to Bueermann.

He also noted how the man moved toward the street moments before police took him down.

“As he starts to move out into the street, he is now putting those spectators — who are complicating the situation — he is putting them at risk because all it takes is for him to to decide to run into the crowd to hide or attack them or whatever,” he said.

The yelling from some spectators likely made the situation worse by confusing or irritating the man, Bueermann said.

“These spectators aren’t being helpful at all either to the police or this gentleman,” he said.

At the end of the video, another spectator comes to the cops’ defense.

“That was like by the book, legit,” he says. “I watched the whole thing.”

After he was arrested, authorities took Peterson to the hospital to treat minor injuries, according to Johnson.

He was later booked into jail and held in lieu of $30,000 bail, according to jail records.