Police officers barged into a home in West Valley City, Utah, where a family was mourning the death of their 2-month-old son on Feb. 24.
Officers kicked the front door in, pepper sprayed and handcuffed three members of Tevin Evans and Maryssa Estrada’s family.
The family says 2-month-old Kameron Evans died at a local hospital from RSV complications; the death was not considered suspicious, noted KSL.com.
Officers Ben Christensen and George Martinez reportedly came by the family home — soon after the family returned from the hospital — to question the distraught family to see if foul play was involved.
Kameron’s grandfather, who was very upset, answered the door.
The police reportedly kicked the front door open, threatened to arrest family members who filmed the chaotic scene and used pepper spray on several people, including Evans’ mother.
Evans, who spent the night in the Salt Lake County Jail, recalled the “unbelievable” and “nightmare” incident to KSL.com:
I was distraught. Obviously me and my wife were upset and feeling probably every emotion possible: anger, sadness, grief, everything, And then for all that to happen and the aftermath at the home, it was just shocking.
Evans and Maryssa Estrada may sue West Valley City on the allegations that the officers of unlawfully entered the home and using excessive force during an unlawful arrest.
The family’s lawyer, Salt Lake civil rights attorney Robert Sykes, added:
The family called 911 on the police. The family called 911 because they were so terrified.
West Valley Police Chief Colleen Jacobs said she has “high expectations of my officers”:
I expect the highest levels of conduct in their professionalism, and I will not accept anything else…
It is our practice to reach out to the family, get their side of it, and if they have been wronged, we will do what we can to make it right.
Jacobs said Christensen was reassigned to different duties during an internal investigation:
What seemed to have been a routine investigation in the video, it was a death investigation, and for it to turn into a use of force, clearly something happened. And we need to find out why it went down that road.
Despite Jacobs’ sincere promises, West Valley City denied a request by the Deseret News to release the police body camera video.
The Evans and Estrada families held a press conference on March 16; Estrada Jr. slammed the police:
No warrant. No crime had been committed. There was no suspicion that a crime had been committed. Right away, (Christensen) took offense to that.
You can visibly see this officer was upset. He couldn’t really handle the situation. Again, this cop is not showing any kind of restraint. No type of de-escalation at all. No respect to the situation.
It felt very ego driven. That cop never said, “Calm down. Here’s why I’m here.” It was instantly, “Everyone is getting arrested.”