Twin brothers Carlos and Thomas Williams were checking out a water drain in front of Carlos’ new home in Rancho Cordova on March 23, 2019, when their lives were upended by a couple in their neighborhood. In a new lawsuit, the brothers contend they were accused of being burglars by the couple and later brutally beaten by officers and arrested.
The incident began when a couple walked over to the brothers and asked, “What the f—k are you doing on this property?” What followed was, unfortunately, a scene that far too many Black Americans have experienced.
Soon afterwards, Rancho Cordova police officers arrived on the scene with guns drawn. “They had their guns drawn in point-blank range and then it became real,” Thomas told CBS Sacramento after the incident.
The brothers were reportedly told to “get your f—king hands up” and then beaten, choked, handcuffed and arrested, according to a pair of lawsuits filed in federal court in Sacramento, The Sacramento Bee reported. The suits, which were filed against Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County and the officers involved, allege the incident was racially motivated.
Following the incident, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Rod Grassmann defended officers’ actions and claimed the Williams brothers refused to follow directions. Grassmann also claimed to CBS Sacramento that the brothers became “resistant both verbally and physically.”
Neither Rancho Cordova nor the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the Rancho Cordova Police Department, responded to requests for comment from The North Star.
Carlos and Thomas remember the incident differently. Carlos told the TV station that the officers threw the pair “to the ground like we were pigs being slaughtered in a slaughterhouse.” His brother remembered being kneed in the back of his head and elbowed in the face.
Thomas’ lawsuit states that the officers searched both brothers and retrieved his brother’s wallet and driver’s license, “which listed his current address and made it plainly obvious to the arresting officers that Carlos was not burglarizing his own home.” The lawsuit also notes that neighbor Oracio Galvan confirmed to officers that Carlos lived at the home.
Thomas was arrested on a charge of felony assault, while his brother was taken into custody on a charge of resisting arrest. The Sacramento Bee reported that prosecutors declined to file the charges.
In their lawsuits, the brothers suggest that the incident, at least partially, was due to racism.
“This is a case of police brutality,” Thomas’ lawsuit states. “Sacramento County and Rancho Cordova violated Dr. Thomas Williams’ constitutional rights and California civil rights when they arrested two African American brothers outside of their own home purportedly on suspicion of burglary.”
The lawsuit continues: “The police officers arrived at the scene and immediately drew their guns, screamed profanities at the brothers, placed one brother in a chokehold, and beat them both into unconsciousness. The brothers attempted to convince the officers that they were residents, but the officers did not care.”
Similar Cases Around The U.S.
Incidents like the one that happened to the Williams brothers have happened around the country to Black people. At least two highly public cases happened in the last year.
In August 2019, Kazeen Oyeneyin was awoken by a police officer with his weapon drawn at the front door of his Raleigh, North Carolina house. The incident occurred minutes after Oyeneyin turned off a security alarm a friend had set off by accident.
The 31-year-old club promoter, who was only wearing his boxer briefs at the time, was carrying a gun which he has a concealed-carry permit for, The Washington Post reported. Cell phone footage shot by Oyeneyin shows the officer screaming at him to drop his gun and then forcibly handcuffing him.
Despite telling the officer that he spoke to the alarm company, Oyeneyin’s home was swarmed with officers with their weapons in their hands. Another officer finally confirmed Oyeneyin was the homeowner.
A similar incident occurred in October 2019, when two Black boys were arrested by Chester Police Officer Pasquale Storage III for “loitering” in their own front yard. The boys were taken to jail and their families were forced to raise money for their bail. The next day, as the boys were welcomed home, the family again faced arrests again from Storace. The boys were rearrested and other members as well for loitering and resisting arrest.
“It’s a terrifying thing,” Rachel Briggs, the mother of one of the boys, told KYW NewsRadio. “It makes me feel as though the police can knock down your door, and drag you out of your home at any time. This is an incident that made me feel like I’m a prisoner in my own home.”
How to Help
There are a couple of organizations that are fighting against police brutality and the targeting of African Americans and other people of color by law enforcement. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out some of those organizations below:
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.