Video shows LAPD officer placing knee on neck of NBA player Jaxson Hayes in Woodland Hills arrest
A Los Angeles police officer twice held his knee to the neck of NBA player Jaxson Hayes, once as he gasped “I can’t breathe!” during a domestic violence call to the athlete’s Woodland Hills home, video released by the department Friday, Aug. 27, shows.
An officer also pressed a Taser to Hayes’ chest, according to bodyworn camera footage released as part of a critical incident briefing by the Los Angeles Police Department. Taser manufacturers have recommended against targeting a suspect’s chest.
Officers were called to the home in the 22000 block of Mariano Street by a cousin of Hayes’ girlfriend about 2:50 a.m., July 28, according to portions of a 911 call released by police.
The cousin told a dispatcher that Hayes’ girlfriend was sending her text messages saying he was being loud and violent and she was scared, according to audio from the call. The cousin also said Hayes was not armed.
Hayes was arrested following the July 28 incident for resisting a police officer.
An officer was treated for an elbow injury suffered when Hayes shoved him against the wall, police said, and Hayes was treated for what police described as minor injuries.
Hayes, who is 6-foot-11 and 220 pounds, plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Police said last month that LAPD’s Force Investigation Division was investigating the incident “due to the possibility of force being applied to Hayes’ neck during the use of force.”
The body-worn camera footage released on Friday shows the officer placing his knee on Hayes’ neck for at least three seconds the first time and 12 seconds the next time. The officer takes his knee off Hayes’ neck at the command of another officer.
The video shows officers meeting Hayes and his cousin in the driveway of the two-story home. Hayes explains to the officers that he and his girlfriend, who remained inside, were arguing and she was throwing stuff.
Hayes says he and his cousin are cleaning up and his cousin tells officers, “Everything is settled, it’s cool.”
But when the officers tell Hayes they need to talk to the girlfriend, Hayes asks who called the officers and tells them he wants to see a warrant, which the officers explain they do not need.
Hayes is told he needs to stay outside, but he begins arguing with the officers and walking back toward the front door.
An officer tells Hayes he’s being detained and tries to put his hands behind his back, but Hayes breaks free and shoves an officer against the wall, at which point other officers wrestle Hayes to the ground.
On two separate instances, an officer places his knee on Hayes’ neck while Hayes lies on his back, the video shows. The second time, Hayes can be heard gasping and saying “I can’t breathe!” three times.
Moments later, another officer presses the Taser against Hayes’ chest before deploying the weapon after Hayes moves, causing Hayes to roll over. The officer uses the Taser a second time on the back of Hayes’ upper left leg. According to LAPD policy, optimal target areas for the Taser are the back and naval area.
Despite requests from his girlfriend and cousin to stop talking and stop moving, Hayes continues to struggle with the officers for more than a minute on the ground before they place him in handcuffs.
“I came out to talk to y’all, and you all gonna tackle me like this, bro?” Hayes is heard saying during the struggle.
As Hayes is rolled over and placed onto a chair, blood is visible on his arm and the front of his shirt.
Hayes’ girlfriend did not cooperate with the officers’ investigation following the altercation. To date, no criminal charges have been filed against Hayes by the District Attorney’s office.
“Jaxson Hayes is a nice young man, and he is back home in Ohio working out and getting ready for the upcoming season,” his attorney, Mark Baute, told the Associated Press on Friday.