Justice for Candido – Fire Mark Kaylor

On September 22, 2014 WDEF News published a story on the April 13 police beating of Candido Medina-Resendiz in Red Bank, Tennessee; including a video from the police cruiser’s dashboard camera. Red Bank officer Mark Kaylor punched Medina-Resendiz seven times in the back of the head while on top of him on the ground. This drove Resendiz’ head into the pavement, causing a skull fracture requiring a metal plate.

We demand justice for Resendiz and all of the Red Bank Police Department’s victims. As we have always maintained, this is not a case of “bad apples,” but of the systemic oppression of Black, Brown, and poor communities. We recognize this case as being connected to the State-sanctioned violence committed against people across the country.

We know that the Red Bank Police Department arrests Black people at over 4.3 times the rate of Non-Black people, which contributes to the Black community’s over-representation in Hamilton County’s Silverdale Correctional Facility–Black people represent more than 44% of the population in Silverdale, while only representing 20% of the overall population of Hamilton County.

According to the police report, Resendiz resisted attempts to arrest  him by pushing and pulling away.  Police say that they attempted to take him into custody for exiting the vehicle after the driver had been arrested. While officers yelled orders at him, they never attempted to ask if he spoke English and never called for a Spanish-speaking officer (Resendiz does not fluently speak English). The video shows Kaylor throwing a confused Resendiz to the ground, followed by multiple officers wrestling to handcuff him.

According to Kaylor’s report, his closed-fist strikes to the head were a response to Resendiz attempting to bite him.

However, video footage contradicts this: Police go to detain Resendiz, then you see him being thrown to the ground and tazed. As Resendiz lays face down, Kaylor can be seen striking the back of his head. Resendez appears to be nonviolent and confused, crying out in Spanish “please don’t hurt me sir”over and over.

As one of Medina-Resendiz’ attorneys told WDEF, “…the fact that an officer is able to use this force and then, after an internal investigation, go back on the job makes us all less safe.”

The Internal Affairs investigation by the Red Bank Police Department not only found that Kaylor’s use of force was within Policies and Procedures, but actually commended him for showing restraint! WDEF also reported that this was not Kaylor’s first incident of brutality; that he has been investigated for excessive force multiple times; and that he lied on his application to Red Bank PD about having been terminated from the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. A Facebook group and page titled “Fire Officer Mark Kaylor” have even been established by residents regarding numerous other cases of brutality as well as wrongful searches and arrests. In addition, on Oct. 2, 2014 the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on another case of Officer Kaylor’s excessive force resulting in a major concussion to the victim, after he surrendered. Unfortunately, like most others, there was no video footage of this incident.

As we have repeatedly pointed out from our experience seeking justice for police crimes in Chattanooga as well as others’ experience across the country, the epidemic of police violence is not a matter of a “few bad apples,” but of systemic state violence against communities that is enabled by policies and procedures. For example,despite formal complaints and public outcry, Kaylor is being promoted rather than punished for his actions.

In our experience and research, the overwhelming majority of complaints of excessive force are ruled in favor of police, and even in the few cases ruling in favor of victims’, no substantial action is taken to stop these incidents from continuing.

“I don’t think that the police can police the police. I think that’s proven by the track record of internal affairs departments all over the country,” said Jared Story of Concerned Citizens for Justice. In addition, the Times Free Press reported on Oct. 8, 2014 that in the last five years, only 13% of the 358 Chattanooga Police Department’s internal affairs investigations resulted in finding officers at fault.

This reality shows a clear unwillingness or inability of police departments’ to achieve justice through internal means when cops abuse their power and members of our communities, whether it is in Red Bank, Chattanooga, or Ferguson. This, yet again, demonstrates the urgent need for community control and oversight of the police while we build community-based alternatives to policing and incarceration.