Rohnert Park, CA — In a video that sparked outrage across the country, a Rohnert Park police officer was caught on film pulling a gun on a man for filming him. The victim, Don McComas has since filed a federal lawsuit against the officer and the department.
However, according to Arstechnica, the police department and officer, David Rodriguez, have now responded to the lawsuit. They essentially say it was resident Don McComas’ fault from the get go and that McComas’ own actions outside his house prompted the officer to draw his weapon on the Rohnert Park man.
“And for a third, separate and affirmative defense, these answering defendants allege that the sole proximate cause of the injuries and damages, if any, claimed by plaintiff was the negligence and fault of the plaintiff…,” they responded in court documents.
The department also alleges that Rodriguez was justified in pointing his gun at McComas because he had an “objectively reasonable belief that the safety of the life of the defendants and others were imminently threatened… ” In other words, this innocent man’s camera made the cop fear for his life. They now want the suit thrown out.
The incident began as Don McComas was loading up his boat for a day on the water when he noticed a Rohnert Park police cruiser stopped in front of his house.
McComas explained the interaction on a post to his Facebook page:
I was hooking the boat up when the officer pulled slowly into my court. When he rounded infront of my house he stopped yet did nothing, then crept forward and instead of leaving toward Snyder he rounded the court opposite of me, then stopped facing me for a few minutes, doing nothing but pointing straight at me/my house. After a couple minutes I was concerned enough to pull out my phone and hit record. Glad I did.
Officer Rodriguez parked only a few feet away from McComas’ Excursion and just sat there in an overt attempt to intimidate an innocent man. After a few uncomfortable moments, the officer rolls down his window and begins filming back. Seconds later he jumps out of his car and begins to threaten McComas.
Within just a few seconds of exiting his vehicle, the officer drew his pistol and began approaching McComas. Remember that McComas had done absolutely nothing wrong, a fact that this officer Rodriguez immediately admits upon contact.
Despite McComas having the camera in one hand and his other hand up, posing no threat whatsoever, the officer continues his advance, with his pistol drawn.
“When I saw the gun and comprehended what was happening I absolutely thought ‘they are going to kill me and claim my hand was in my pocket’ period,” said McComas.
When McComas asserts that he’s done nothing wrong and asks the officer why he got out of his vehicle, Rodriguez proceeded to resort to elementary school tactics.”You’re taking a picture me; I’m taking a picture of you.”
Is taking a picture enough to have reasonable articulable suspicion to not only stop at someone’s home but to pull a gun on them?
Luckily, McComas escapes with his life as the armed assailant walked back to his car after momentarily coming to his senses.
On the Rohnert Park Police Facebook Page, they describe their mission statement with “Ten Core Values: Integrity, Honesty, Diversity, Respect, Fairness, Compassion, Courage, Professionalism, Dedication, and Commitment.”
The only two of those core values displayed in the video below happen to be Dedication and Commitment. However, this officer was only dedicated to harassing an innocent man and he showed that he was committed only to endangering lives to conduct this harassment.
According to CAL. PEN. CODE § 417 : California Code – Section 417:
(2) Every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of any other person, draws or exhibits any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or who in any manner, unlawfully uses a firearm in any fight or quarrel is punishable as follows:
(A) If the violation occurs in a public place and the firearm is a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than three months and not more than one year, by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(B) In all cases other than that set forth in subparagraph (A), a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than three months.
At the end of the video, after Rodriguez had threatened McComas with a deadly weapon, he says, “Go ahead and have a nice day. Put it on YouTube. I don’t care.”
McComas listened, and now Rodriguez is YouTube famous — for all the wrong reasons. However, as the department’s response to the lawsuit and as well as Rodriguez’ current employment as a cop show, video evidence of a cop committing a crime is not always an avenue for justice.