STOCKTON, Calif. — Nearly three weeks after an unarmed black man was held at gunpoint by an off-duty Stockton Police Officer, the People's Alliance For Justice announced that he plans to hire an attorney and take the Stockton Police Department to civil court.
A video of the May 25 incident shows off-duty Officer Kevin Hachler standing over James Weaver with his gun drawn, while Weaver asks "You tried to run me off the road and pull a gun out on me, and you're a cop?"
Considering the court case in his future, Weaver had little to say to the media on Wednesday. But he did say that the situation was twice as terrifying because he had children in his car.
While the 26-year-old was on the ground with a gun pointed at him, three children — ages 1, 3 and 12 were in his car with his friend Preston Johnson.
"We got off to walk to our destination and I didn't know this guy, he was wearing normal clothes," Johnson said. "He came up, you know, with his gun out. I didn't know what was gonna happen. I was terrified. For (James') life, my life..."
Weaver, a resident of Reno, Nev., said he was in Stockton to buy a car when he crossed paths with who he would later find out was Officer Hachler on Highway 99.
According to the Stockton Police Department, Hachler was driving his personal pickup southbound on Highway 99 near Cherokee Road in Stockton when he said he spotted an SUV towing a U-Haul trailer "driving wildly."
Hachler said at one point Weaver even swerved across lanes of traffic and, after getting onto westbound Highway 4, Hachler said Weaver “intentionally swerved at him,” and he called California Highway Patrol (CHP) for backup.
While both men agree that Hachler followed Weaver to his destination, their stories differ on the details of how the situation unfolded outside of the vehicles.
Weaver said that Hachler never identified himself as an off-duty officer, not even when he pulled his gun out. Hachler said that he made it clear from the start that he was an officer.
However, since Hachler was off-duty, there is no body camera evidence to prove which account of the situation is true.
Organizers and activists with the People's Alliance for Justice said Wednesday what happens in the video below is a blatant example of racial profiling — and that the Stockton Police Department must be held accountable for the mistreatment of Weaver.
"What happened to Mr. James Weaver and his little children is disgusting. To be wrongfully followed and hunted down by an off-duty Stockton Police Officer is absolutely unacceptable," said Pastor Leon Scoggins in a statement shared with media. "The people of Stockton will stand against this kind of treatment and demand justice."
Scoggins is the Stockton representative of the People's Alliance for Justice.
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Weaver was arrested and booked into jail on $105,000 bail. He stayed there for around six hours until his wife was able to pay $10,000 bail to get him released. He returned to court in Stockton several days later to find that there were no longer charges against him.
"How do you have him on $105,000 bond for 'reckless driving' and what you say was going on?" asked Rev. Shane Harris, the founder of Peoples Alliance for Justice, emphasizing that there is no video evidence of the events before Weaver's arrest because Hachler was off-duty.
Harris went on to say that the actions of the off-duty officer only go to show that the department and departments across the country are going out of their way to overhaul citizens.
The case against the department will be based on the losses Weaver faced as a result of the arrest. That includes the $10,000 bail and traveling back to Stockton from Reno to attend a court case that Weaver was never told had been canceled.
It is the belief of Harris and the People's Alliance for Justice that Weaver was "humiliated and taken advantage of by a rogue off-duty cop who had road rage" and Harris said he hopes this will highlight Assembly Bill 392, which is headed to the Senate, and the need for legislative changes in how police interact with citizens.
"We're not waiting for another black man to die, we're going to stand up now," Harris said. "...this is about brutality and how (police) profile and target black and brown communities."