I-TEAM: Unarmed black man handcuffed by Alameda police for 'dancing in the street'

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- Body camera footage released to the ABC7 I-Team shows an unarmed black man handcuffed and pinned to the ground by Alameda police after reports of him "dancing in the street."

This was originally exclusive story, brought to you first by ABC7 News on Friday.

"I do this every day... please let me go," said Mali Watkins, a 44-year-old martial artist. "I was just dancing."

It was May 23, before 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

In our exclusive interview, Watkins told ABC7 he was handcuffed and pushed around by police for an hour. Here's a clip of the body camera footage prior to police handcuffing Watkins.

RELATED: Man who trains San Jose police about bias severely injured by riot gun

"Sir, listen...listen...let me go!" Watkins said, minutes before officers cuffed him.

According to the police report, Watkins was reported for "dancing in the street."


Neighbors who witnessed the arrest pleaded for police to release him.

"Hey... he's from around here, he exercises every day, we know his routine, he didn't do anything wrong," said Robert Davidson, a neighbor.

RELATED: Family speaks out after Vallejo police mistake hammer for gun and shoot, kill 22-year-old

The Alameda police chief has requested an outside investigation into the officers' actions.

A full clip of the video released to the ABC7 I-Team is posted in the video player at the top of this page.

First, you see two officers handcuffing Watkins.

Minutes later, five officers surround him pinning him face first to the ground.

"Why you comin on me... why you comin on me... now you're on me," said Watkins.


Friends teared up as they described what happened.

"I saw him being abused... what else can I say," said a neighbor named Nolan.

According to police, Watkins was later cited for resisting arrest.

"We were all like, why is this happening?" said Watkins.

The footage that first surface on social media has prompted an outside investigation of the Alameda police officers facilitating Watkins' arrest.

Alameda City Manager Eric Levitt released the following statement Tuesday:

"Based on an initial review, a full outside investigation is being requested by the Police Chief. I concur with his decision fully. While it has not been determined at this time whether it violated policy upon initial review, it does not represent my values that the Police Department needs to respect and serve our community with trust and without bias."

Levitt later spoke to ABC7 about the video released on social media.

"I want to make sure everyone, regardless of color is treated equally," Levitt told ABC7 in a later interview.


ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked Levitt if any of the five officers shown handling this arrest will face further penalty. We were told "it's still unclear" as the outside investigation is still pending.

The ABC7 I-Team has requested the complaint history of each of the five officers shown in the video handling this arrest. Stay posted for further updates.

Take a look at for a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.