Police defend homeless arrest
October 20, 2012
The San Luis Obispo Police Department is defending its officers following allegations they ruffed up of a homeless man during an arrest on Thursday.
At the end of a poorly made video of the arrest that went viral, an officer said Richard Kirenga, 33, was not acting aggressively when police arrived and threw him to the ground. The officer said Kirenga’s prior history of aggressive behavior prompted their actions.
In a Friday press release, police say Kirenga did not respond when asked to take his hands out of his pockets, and when they tried to pull them out he resisted. Police said they found two rocks and a corkscrew in Kirenga’s pockets.
On Tuesday, Kirenga was barred from the shelter for 150 days for allegedly acting aggressively. Kirenga, who witnessed the murder and rape of family members in Africa, suffers from mental illness.
Kirenga showed up at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter on Thursday hoping for a meal and a place to sleep. A shelter employee called police and reported Kirenga for trespassing.
Kirenga’s arrest comes at a time numerous members of the homeless community contend police harassment at the behest of homeless services directors and the city council has become abusive.
Police booked Kirenga into San Luis Obispo County Jail on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and for two outstanding warrants. His $10,000 bail was posted and he has been released.