The city of Pleasanton recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with the family of a mentally ill man who died during an encounter with police officers.
Pleasanton, a city in Northern California, recently agreed to pay almost $6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Jacob Bauer, “a mentally ill man who died in 2018 after police restrained and repeatedly tasered him.” In addition to the financial side of things, the settlement also included a “listening session between Bauer’s parents and Pleasanton Police Chief David Swing, who was named in the lawsuit,” according to Gary Gwilliam, the attorney representing the family.
When commenting on the settlement, Gwilliam said:
“What the Bauers want is to try and make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that their son’s life will have some meaning, that it wasn’t in vain.”
Pleasanton City Attorney Daniel Sodergren also chimed in on the matter and said, “the insurance carrier, Bay Cities Joint Powers Insurance Authority, approved” the agreement. Additionally, a news release issued by the Pleasanton police noted the “Alameda County District Attorney cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing.” The statement read:
“The Pleasanton Police Department values the sanctity of life and continues to extend its most sincere condolences to the Bauer family.”
What happened, though? Well, on August 1, 2018, city police responded to a “call about a man acting erratically and talking to himself inside a grocery store near his house.” The man was Bauer, 38. When officers arrived, they found him “outside the store, and he was cooperative, identified himself, and answered their questions.” From there, “he seemed to shut down and stared blankly into the distance.” Seconds later, “the officers handcuffed him, took him to the ground, tased him, punched him, and piled on top of him while he laid in the prone position,” according to the suit. On top of that, Bauer was “restrained in a full-body wrap with a spit mask and at one point had eight officers leaning on him.”
Gwilliam said, “This asphyxiation was every bit as serious as George Floyd’s but done by many different police officers.” Video footage from the incident showed Bauer “complaining repeatedly that he could not breathe.” Soon after, Bauer fell unconscious. When paramedics arrived, they were able to give him a sedative, “but were then denied access to him for eight minutes.” In the end, attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and, upon arriving at the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Prior to the fatal incident, Bauer’s parents had visited the police department on four occasions to “tell officials they were worried their son would be hurt or killed if he ever came in contact with officers.” They noted that “two other mentally ill men had been killed by Pleasanton police officers in the previous two years.” During their fourth visit, only three days before Bauer’s death, officers told them not to worry.
Since the incident, Bauer’s parents have been attending City Council meetings to speak about “de-escalation training for officials who interact with the mentally ill.” While speaking out about her son’s death, Rose Bauer said:
“Jacob lost his life over a few broken bottles at a grocery store…I hope this settlement creates real changes to stop police from using excessive force against the mentally ill.”