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San Francisco Chronicle/Otis R. Taylor, Jr.

Handyman Carl Edwards was welding the fence at the side of his Tennessee Street building when a Vallejo police officer approached him.

Seconds later, Edwards was bleeding — tackled to the ground, choked and punched repeatedly in the head. Blood gushed from his busted nose, pooling on the concrete as the officer wrapped his arm around Edwards’ neck in a carotid restraint, a pressure maneuver designed to cause unconsciousness. …

As it turns out, Edwards wasn’t the guy they were looking for on July 30, 2017. He didn’t match the age or description in either looks or clothing. On Thursday, Vallejo agreed to pay Edwards $750,000 to settle the civil rights lawsuit he filed against the city, Spencer Muniz-Bottomley, who was then a Vallejo officer, and three other Vallejo police officers.

“I couldn’t believe it when all of a sudden I was being choked,” Edwards, 53, said. “When I heard more sirens coming, I thought, ‘Thank God, these guys are going to tell these guys to back off.’ And they just jumped in.”

Edwards, who lost consciousness twice, said he felt like the officers were trying to kill him. And get this: He was charged with violently resisting during the arrest, but police body-cam footage calls that charge into question. Still, it took the Solano County district attorney 14 months to dismiss the charges against Edwards, citing lack of sufficient evidence.

“They’re not just not charging the cops,” said Michael Haddad, Edwards’ attorney. “They’re charging innocent people who the cops victimize.” …

In October, the city declared a public safety emergency intended to speed up reform initiatives for the Police Department. In June, the department banned carotid holds.

Edwards was so shaken by the incident that he built a fence in front of his building. It’s made out of six-inch thick steel that’s seven-feet high. The fence’s panels are six-foot wood slats that spin. You can see through the barricade, but you can’t get through it. Not even a cop.

“Police need to understand that when they brutalized someone like they did Carl, it’s not a one-off event,” Haddad said. “It changed Carl’s life.”

Edwards told me he’s leaving Vallejo in the next month.



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