James Greer Widow: “My Goal Is to Keep His Name Alive”

James ‘Nate’ Greer was murdered by police after being pulled over for a field sobriety test. Today we talk to the widow of the innocent victim of police brutality.

Around 10.35pm on May 23rd, 2014, James ‘Nate’ Greer, a loving husband, father and grandfather, was pulled over by Hayward police for a field sobriety test. The ensuing tragic events led to him being subdued by several officers, handcuffed, tased and bodywrapped, which eventually resulted in his death. The agonizing events surrounding his death were all caught on tape. Unfortunately, his death was not investigated due to a bad reporting policy. Today, Deana Greer, his wife tells us about life without James and what the family has been going through to obtain justice for him.

Tomorrow, July 30 Deana is organizing BBQ in loving memory of Nate and all the police victims. Join, if you are in Hayward, California.

blackmattersus.com
How are you and the family doing?
Deana Greer
Emotionally, we’re still in a little bit of shock even though it’s been two years. We kept everything pretty private in the first year and half until just recently – in the last three months. It’s still unbelievable that that actually happened.
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What kind of person was James?
Deana Greer
He was 46 years old and we were together for over 20 years. We have 2 children together, Desiree and Joseph, and we have 2 grandbabies. He was a family oriented person who loved to be outdoors, camping, fishing and music. He also loved sports, the Raiders were his football team. And he loved old cars. He had a 1962 Chevy Impala. He would teach my son how to work on cars and how to be a mechanic. He was a fire sprinkler installer but in his spare time he liked to work on cars. He was like a jack-of-all-trades, and he thought my son a lot of those types of things. He was a very good guy and had a really big heart. If anybody needed anything he’d be right there. He loved life, and was really outgoing.
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What has been done so far to obtain justice for James?
Deana Greer
The 2 year anniversary of his death was May 23rd, 2016. We had a rally at the city hall. At that time the reporting policy to the District Attorney for in-custody death did not include anything other than shooting. Since James wasn’t shot with a gun, it went unreported. I reached out to the District Attorney and told her that the reporting policy was failing because there are several people who’ve died in police custody in the county who were not shot. So she agreed to change that policy but I am yet to see that in writing.
blackmattersus.com
How are the officials reacting? Have they made any comments?
Deana Greer
They haven’t made any comments. We had the rally on May 23rd, we had a march to the Hayward Police Department on June 24, and we’re having another event this month and a town hall meeting scheduled for August 20. No one’s responded, they’ve just kept quiet.
blackmattersus.com
The video clearly contradicts what the police said about the fact that the death was an accident which happened because of intoxication and physical exertion. Could you please clarify the circumstances of James’ death?
Deana Greer
From looking at the video, he was pulled over for changing lanes and was told he was driving goofy. It wasn’t for drinking and driving. However, police initiated the field sobriety test. He totally complied with the officers. At one point when he realized there were more than 20 officers surrounding him, he asked them what they were doing because he was confused as to what was going on. He took a couple of steps back and the police officer who had the video camera on his chest grabbed him from behind and pulled him down. He wasn’t able to put his hands behind his back – they didn’t give him enough time to do so – and when they wrestled him to the ground, it escalated from there. He was pulled down to the ground by the BART officer, who was wearing the body camera. The body wrap in which they wrapped him says: Do not apply any pressure to the back while wrapping because that could cause death through asphyxiation. Yet he had 7 officers sitting on him and one directly on his back while they were wrapping him. At the same time, they had 2 officers tasing him simultaneously and a third tasing after that. By the time they rolled him over, they realized his lips were blue but instead of helping him, they continued to tie him and wrap him up in a harness in the front. They left him sitting there for almost 7 minutes without any medical assistance. They didn’t check his pulse, they didn’t perform CPR on him and they did absolutely nothing while he literally sat there dying until the ambulance came. Looking at the video, I could see that there was something wrong in every action, in every angle that I would look at it. I feel like they could have helped him at some point but they didn’t. They literally just let him die, because they weren’t paying attention as he sat there not breathing. They were paying attention to each other and telling jokes about him.
blackmattersus.com
This is truly awful and infuriating! Do you think there was an attempt to cover up the murder by not disclosing it publicly and not investigating it?
Deana Greer
I feel they’re covering up something because they didn’t report it. And because of that loophole of them not having to report it based on the policy at the time, they hid it. A reporter brought to my attention a year after the death that the reporting policy was such, so from that point I was diligently working on the district attorney to change that. Until there’s a policy change, there’s nothing really that we can hold them accountable to. The fact that they killed him went unnoticed because they did not have to tell anyone. So whether they were hiding it or they just didn’t care, it went unsaid.
blackmattersus.com
What’s the message of the current protests?
Deana Greer
To change the policy so it didn’t happen again, and when someone dies in custody, whether they had a stroke or a heart attack, were tased or shot, it should be reported. That way we’ll hold them accountable to something and they can do investigations. When I talked to the district attorney she actually subpoenaed the records from the Hayward Police Department to look at them. She hired an investigator and an attorney to look into those and do an independent investigation which was also never done. There were several officers on the scene when he was killed – the video camera shows more than 17 police officers – and they only released about seven of the names so I’m trying to get everyone’s name released. Everyone needs be held accountable for the part that they took in his death.
blackmattersus.com
What do you think should be the punishment for these cops?
Deana Greer
I feel that they should be held accountable, but as far as I know, they had no administrative time off and no repercussions for what they’d done. Every officer at the scene should be held accountable because they didn’t do anything to help him and that’s where it went wrong. I feel they are first responders, and they should’ve been able to administer CPR and notice signs of him not breathing. Disciplinary action needs to be taken.
blackmattersus.com
What do you think about recent shooting events involving Alton Sterling and Philando Castile? Is it the same kind of injustice that happened to James?
Deana Greer
I absolutely believe that it is injustice because they’re shooting to kill. They are not asking any questions, they’re just going in with full force. If they had some type of repercussion I think they would think twice about doing such things. To me, what’s bothersome is these officers know that they’re being videotaped, but yet still continue to use excessive force, because they know that nothing will be done to them. It’s almost like they’re untouchable and they don’t care about being on video.
blackmattersus.com
Are you in support of all the protests that are going on currently?
Deana Greer
I’m in support of protests for justice. I’m not in support of officers being killed, I don’t think that’s the right route that we need to take. I would never encourage that type of behavior. Our rallies are peaceful, we want to get his story out there and bring awareness to the community in Hayward to let them know what’s going on. Concerning the riots and shootings of police officers and shutting down freeways, I don’t agree with that.
blackmattersus.com
How are you planning to keep fighting for justice?
Deana Greer
My goal – for my family, and for my husband – is to keep his name alive. To have all these events to keep his name in the limelight so that other people are aware of what’s going on. To keep the pressure on the district attorney to make these policy changes. I’m going to keep doing our events and going to the police department and public hearings to show that we’re still here and we’re still fighting for justice for James and other people because this is happening so much, it’s becoming an epidemic. It shouldn’t be happening.
blackmattersus.com
Do you cooperate with other families in planning these events?
Deana Greer
Yes. For a year and a half we dealt with this alone, but within the last three months I’ve been working closely with other families and coalitions. I have joined forces with Idriss Stelley, Oscar Grant, Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Kayla Moore, Antonio Guzman and Pedie Perez families to name a few, unfortunately there are so many more.
blackmattersus.com
We wish you luck with your work and always ready to help! By the way, do you think the protests are a good tool to change things?
Deana Greer
I think the protests are working. I think that changes are being made but slowly. San Francisco is a perfect example of change being made through their protest, one being the hunger strike. The Frisco 5 held their hunger strike for 17 days and eventually led to the resignation of police chief, unfortunately, not before one more unnecessary police killing, Jessica Nelson Williams.
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Why are the changes being made slowly?
Deana Greer
I do not know why the changes are being made so slowly. But in my opinion when the police started to get killed in return, then it became a “big deal” when all along it should have been a big deal. I do know the change needs to come and that the change needs to come now!
blackmattersus.com
Do you have any message for our readers?
Deana Greer
All the coalitions have their Facebook pages. Justice 4 James ‘Nate’ Greer is ours. We’re going to have a website made soon and we’ll have places on it where people can actually help. If they’re in an area or if they know people who have had injustice by the police but they just don’t know where to go, it’s a resource that they can go to and we’ll reach out to them and walk them through it or help them in whatever way we can. My message to everyone is for them to be aware of their surroundings and honestly, I hate to say it but when you see a police officer, bring out your cellphone and put that camera on and start videotaping because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. You could be next, and it’s really scary that that’s true.

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