Ukiah, CA — Multiple officers are under investigation this week after harrowing video surfaced showing them dishing out a gang-style beat down of a non-combative mentally ill man. Gerardo Magdaleno, 25, needed mental health help last week and instead of helping him, police broke multiple bones in his face.
According to police, they received multiple calls about a naked man standing on the side of the road. That man was Magdaleno who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and he was in the midst of an obvious mental health crisis.
As the video shows, aside from being naked, Magdaleno was breaking no laws and was peacefully standing around harming no one when police arrived. According to his family, Magdaleno sometimes takes LSD instead of his actual medication, which they say happened the night before the confrontation with police.
"He gets anxiety and he runs to drugs as an escape,” his sister, Luna Magdaleno said.
When the first officer approached Magdaleno, the officer gave him commands, which police say Magdaleno did not follow. Police said Magdaleno instead responded by assuming “an aggressive stance.”
The "aggressive stance" claim is often used by police to justify the initiation of force against otherwise entirely non-violent and peaceful individuals. In this case, the claim was used as a reason to taser Magdaleno which sent him collapsing to the ground.
Pepper spray was also used in addition to multiple taser deployments and though the tactics did not completely incapacitate Magdaleno, he never responded with violence. As the multiple video angles show, he simply stood back up.
As more officers, arrived, however, like sharks, they could smell the blood in the water and likely noticed an opportunity to let off some steam on a mentally ill unarmed man who was not fighting back.
“Eventually Magdaleno was brought to the ground by several Officers but he continued to resist handcuffs and ignored verbal commands to stop resisting,” the department said in a statement. “The Officers then attempted to gain compliance by delivering numerous distraction strikes to the suspect’s head. This allowed the Officers a brief opportunity to place Magdaleno into handcuffs, and then the technique was ceased.”
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Sounds cut and dry, right? When we watch the video below, however, that is not at all what happened. Before police smashed his face in, Magdaleno appears to go stiff and collapses as two officers pull his arms to the side as a third jumps on top of him. A fourth officer then grabs Magdaleno's feet, slamming the man's head into the pavement as another officer proceeds to unleash a fury of punches to the seemingly unresponsive naked man.
Even after Magdaleno is placed in handcuffs and lies motionless on the hot pavement, an officer apparently couldn't contain himself and begins wrestling with Magdaleno's legs. The video then ends.
“Unless he’s off taking his medication, he’s a good person.” Luna Magdalena added, “He wasn’t running, he wasn’t forcing anybody…he wasn’t resisting…I don’t know why this is happening.”
Magdaleno's sister said they have not been able to see him since they saw the videos online. They have only been told that her brother was hospitalized for a short time to be treated for multiple facial fractures and a concussion.
“It’s really cruel and unfair; it’s police brutality,” she said.
According to his family, as reported by the Mendocino Voice, Magdaleno is well known to local law enforcement and social services, and is often homeless. They also said that he has at least once before been badly beaten by UPD officers, including being attacked by a police dog which resulted in substantial damage to his penis.
The family has since retained an attorney and are planning a lawsuit against the department over the clear violation of Magdaleno's rights. The attorney, Izaak Schwaiger said they plan to file suit in federal court in the near future.
“At a very basic level it’s just outrageous," Schwaiger said. “It doesn’t take an advanced degree, or a lot of experience with civil rights to say that it didn’t need to happen. And it’s representative of a larger problem that’s facing California and the nation, and that’s the criminalization of mental illness. We’ve got dollars for cops and pennies for mental health…and frankly, to the man with a hammer everything looks like a nail, so you give a guy a gun you give him hand-to-hand combat training…and what’s he going to do with that…they don’t have the training to deal with this because they’re too busy training these guys to be Rambo.”
The other close up videos which contain nudity can be found at the following link.