Alejandro Natividad says when he saw the cop pointing a gun at him his first instinct was to hit the record button on the phone he was holding.
He admits he doesn’t really know what was going through the mind of his friend who was driving the car when they were pulled over. The driver, Michael Jude Jean-Baptiste, 26, temporarily blocked traffic and “didn’t immediately pull over when they were stopped,” Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Armando Munoz told Fusion. The incident occurred in Palm Desert, about a two-hour drive south of Los Angeles.
Natividad says what is clear is that he and his friend were both unarmed and that they weren’t a threat when cops pulled their guns out. Natividad said he exited the car when his friend didn’t stop immediately. Jean-Baptiste exited the car moments later.
“We have no weapons. We are not a threat to you. Why are you pointing a gun at me? I am not a threat. I got out of the car and surrendered to you,” Natividad, 29, is heard telling the officer in the 3 minute 40 second video clip originally uploaded to Facebook.
Natividad is heard refusing to follow the officer’s order to lay on the ground.
“This is one man talking to another. There is a man behind that badge, be like a man. That is a coward pointing a gun at me,” Natividad is heard telling the officer as he refuses to follow the officers order and lay on the ground.
Natividad says this was the first time he’s ever stood up against a cop.
“You’ve got the whole Michael Brown thing, the situation in Oakland with Oscar Grant being shot while he was already cuffed and just I wanted to record [my] incident to cover myself,” Natividad said in a telephone interview.
“It was one of those yes-or-no moments and I just did it, I just started recording and didn’t look back,” he said.
“I served in the United States Army, OK? I am scared for my freaking life right now,” Natividad, said in the video.
Natividad said as an U.S. Army veteran he’s familiar with officers taking shooting positions.
“There’s a low-ready and then there’s a ready, and this officer was ready. He was ready in position to shoot me,” Natividad said.
Natividad said he served in Iraq for a year before he was medically discharged. Natividad provided Fusion with links to photos of him in uniform, in what appears to be Army facilities, and holding what look to be military-grade weapons. Multiple calls to the Department of Defense and the Army were not immediately returned for confirmation.
Natividad first posted the video on Facebook but he says he removed the video after it was seen more than 200,000 times because he was receiving too many negative comments. The video was later uploaded to YouTube and had more than 371,000 views when this story was published.
Natividad’s friend who was driving the car was arrested and charged with driving while impaired by drugs. The officer’s police report noted there was “a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.”
The local sheriff captain says his officers followed protocol.
"I didn't see anything in the video that stood out to me as a violation of our policy," Capt. Andrew Shouse, who oversees the local sheriff's station told The Desert Sun. "He is not on administrative leave, and he is back at work."
Shouse said no one should exit their car during a traffic stop unless instructed to do so to avoid confrontation.
Shortly after the video ends Natividad was handcuffed with no altercation.
“But I never went down,” Natividad said.
Natividad was released from the scene without any charges.