NAACP rebukes San Jose police over viral mayor security altercation
A pedestrian identified as Wesley Pollard (left) attacks San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan's security guard on South First Street in downtown San Jose on April 23, 2024. Screenshot from KRON4 video.

The region’s NAACP chapter is rebuking San Jose police for the viral incident earlier this week in which a pedestrian attacked Mayor Matt Mahan’s security detail after a verbal dispute turned physical.

The Rev. Jethroe Moore, president of NAACP San Jose/Silicon Valley, on Wednesday sent a critical email to acting Police Chief Paul Joseph about the incident, which was filmed by KRON4 during a downtown interview with the mayor. The mayor’s security detail — an SJPD officer in a suit — sustained injuries during the altercation and the pedestrian, identified as Wesley Pollard, was arrested on felony charges including battery of an officer.

“Upon viewing the video of the incident, I was troubled by the rapid escalation of the situation into a physical altercation,” Moore wrote. “The officer involved in the altercation did not clearly identify himself as a law enforcement officer, and it appears that there was no legal basis for instructing the pedestrian to move from his location in a public space. The pedestrian’s reaction, although stating a warning, should have been met with a more measured response from the officer, considering the circumstances.”

Pollard was scheduled to appear in a Santa Clara County court on Friday, with bail set at $26,000. KRON4 reported that Pollard has been released on the condition he stay 300 yards from Mahan and the involved officer and that he’ll be subject to random police searches for weapons possession. 

The police chief denied Moore’s conclusions in a statement of his own, arguing the officer identified himself.

“As with many incidents involving law enforcement, the video released to the public does not contain the entire incident. In particular, it does not include the officer identifying himself, nor does it include the many attempts he made to deescalate the situation and avoid using force or taking any enforcement action,” Joseph wrote, adding Pollard had an outstanding arrest warrant from Georgia for “resisting arrest with violence.”

The police department declined to comment beyond Joseph’s statement, but said Joseph has been in communication with Moore since the incident.

As a result of the incident, San Jose Police Officers’ Association spokesperson Tom Saggau said the union plans to send a letter Monday requesting a minimum of two officers be assigned to the mayor. He called Moore’s remarks “nonsense” and insisted the officer identified himself.

“I don’t know that it can be heard on the video, but if you speak to other folks that were present, they all heard it and they were further away than the suspect,” Saggau told San José Spotlight.

One person who witnessed the altercation firsthand — who asked not to be identified — told San José Spotlight the officer showed the pedestrian his badge and made attempts to calm and dissuade Pollard.

Moore in his letter asked SJPD to conduct a comprehensive review of the incident, including the actions of all parties involved.

“It is imperative that all officers receive ongoing training in de-escalation techniques and conflict resolution to handle challenging situations effectively and with respect for all individuals’ rights,” Moore wrote.

Mahan expressed gratitude for the officer, but said he supports a review of his actions.

“He did his job, used his de-escalation training and remained level-headed even while being physically assaulted,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “Cases like this deserve a comprehensive and transparent review in order to maintain trust between our law enforcement officers and the community they protect. I am certain that the San Jose Police Department will provide more details as they are available.”

Contact Brandon Pho at [email protected] or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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