Video of library security holding woman in ‘chokehold’ gains thousands of views

Video used with permission of Krystal Nzeadibe

by Jasmine Bermudez, Assistant News Editor

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A physical altercation with a security guard in the Malcolm A. Love Library on Feb. 27 ended with a woman being put into what some students said was a chokehold.

According to a statement from San Diego State spokesperson Cory Marshall, the woman was in an unauthorized area when she slapped a guard’s phone and struck his face with an open palm.

Raquel Herriott, a university police spokesperson, said the woman, Chanell Williams, is not an SDSU student.

Marshall said the security guard then attempted to restrain the woman until police arrived.

Finance senior Krystal Nzeadibe said she is skeptical of Marshall’s statement because it is unclear what happened before the incident.

“I think it’s interesting for us to know (about) the situation as a whole, not just starting at certain points,” she said. “That makes me very skeptical of how our university is telling the story.”

Management information systems sophomore Adrian Garate works at the 24/7 Study Area in the library.

He said he and the security guard frequently complain to each other about Williams because she loiters there often.

“(Williams) went there Monday night and tried to do the same thing which is grab clothes from the lost and found,” Garate said. “(The) security guard told her she had to go because the library was closing down.”

Garate also said he spoke to the security guard after the incident and he said Williams came back and said she forgot something in the lost and found.  

“(He said) she he snatched the phone from his hand when he said he was going to call the police,” Garate said. “She took the phone from him and when he tried to grab it back, she got physical.”

Garate said the security guard is not working in the library anymore.

“He actually got moved because of the bad publicity,” he said. “He was working at the library full-time for eight years.”

Herriott said details regarding the incident are still being reviewed by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, which handles charges for suspected misdemeanors that take place within city limits.

Marshall said the woman was cited for battery and issued an order to stay off campus for seven days.

Nzeadibe said she was sitting in the library when she heard screams.

“The security guard had this black woman in a chokehold and there were two other security guards that were standing in front of (the security guard) and were telling the lady to not move,” she said.

Nzeadibe recorded the security guard restraining the woman and posted it on Facebook. The video received more than 5,000 views and 40 shares.

“I wanted our community and the rest of the world to see that a lot of issues regarding police brutality can happen in spaces where we don’t typically see them,” Nzeadibe said. “So when I first saw what was going on I immediately had to share because this is obviously an issue with race, classism and gender combined into one.”

She said the amount of force that was used on the woman was unjustifiable.

“We need to look at the bigger picture and look at the system of white supremacy and classism and how we need to critique the system that put her in that situation in the first place,” Nzeadibe said.  

Business management sophomore Adrian Alvarado said he wasn’t at the library when the incident occured, but he watched Nzeadibe’s video and said he doesn’t think the security guard was wrong.

“Given the circumstances that it happened in where she struck the security guard first, I would say that was a necessary amount of force just to restrain her until the police got there to prevent her from going away,” he said.

Alvarado said he used to work in the library and knows the security guard takes his job seriously.

“It’s not about politics at all. It is about the facts,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be racially motivated.”

Herriott said officers completed the investigation and cited the woman based on interviews and evidence. She also said she can’t speak to whether the incident was racially motivated, and because the security guard is contracted with Elite Services, an event staff and security company, she can’t confirm whether the proper protocols were followed.

Correction 8:04 p.m.  March 8: An earlier version of this story misspelled Chanell’s last name as Channell. The Daily Aztec regrets the error.

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