LOS ANGELES - A sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department has been found to have violated department policy by kneeling on New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes’ neck for nearly 15 seconds during an altercation in Woodland Hills last July.
Around 2:50 a.m. Wednesday, July 28, 2021, officers with the Topanga Division were called to a reported domestic dispute at a home located near the intersection of Fallbrook Avenue and Ventura Boulevard. Upon arrival, officers reportedly found Hayes in the front yard of the home and said they needed to speak with the victim and requested him to stay outside.
LAPD officials said body-worn video shows despite verbal commands and blocking his path into the home, Hayes tried to enter the house multiple times, which caused them to call for backup assistance. Officers then attempted to place Hayes’ hands behind his back, but the department says the young NBA star was able to break free from the officers’ grip, which resulted in one of the officers being pushed into a wall.
At that point, "officers utilized physical force to take Hayes down to the ground to overcome his resistance." Once Hayes, listed at 6 feet and 11 inches tall was on the ground, he continued to resist, the LAPD said.
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For about two and a half minutes, officers "utilized two deployments of the taser, as well as body weight and physical force during the altercation," LAPD said in a press release. Hayes was subsequently handcuffed and arrested for resisting arrest.
Released video body cam video footage also shows Sgt. Darren Holst knelt on Hayes’ neck twice during the arrest, which prompted Hayes to say, "I can’t breathe."
Hayes was taken to a hospital for injuries sustained during the altercation before he was medically released and booked into the Van Nuys jail. He was then released on a $25,000 bail.
Following the incident, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the department launched a categorical use of force investigation.
Following the investigation, the LA Board of Police Commissioners sided with LAPD Chief Michel Moore in that Holst’s actions were not reasonable or necessary.
On Feb. 24, Hayes pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count each of false imprisonment and resisting an officer.
Last month, Hayes was sentenced to 450 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic-violence classes and three years of probation.
The 22-year-old had a breakout season with the Pelicans as the team knocked the LA Clippers from playoff contention in the second round of the NBA play-in tournament. New Orleans was later eliminated after taking Phoenix to six games in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
City News Service contributed to this report.