San Jose, CA — If you ever have any doubt about how the state forces compliance with arbitrary dictates like vehicle registration, it is the promise of violence. If you do not obey every single arbitrary traffic code, you will be issued a promise of extortion via a citation. If you refuse to pay those who are doing the extorting, they will kidnap and cage you. If you refuse to be kidnapped and caged, they can and will initiate violence against you.
Over the years, the Free Thought Project has reported on countless instances in which people have been beaten or even killed over things as trivial as a burned out light bulb on their license plate. As the following case illustrates, the state is willing to hold children at gunpoint while beating and arresting their mother for failing to pay the state for a vehicle registration sticker.
In a rare instance of justice, however, the mother was exonerated and the cop who savagely beat her, Officer Matthew Rodriguez, has been arrested.
A warrant was issued for Rodriguez's arrest this week and the officer has been charged with assault and battery under color of authority for kicking and dragging a woman who was in handcuffs across a parking lot.
The video, recorded by San Jose resident Josh Gil, shows police stop a family in a McDonald's parking lot. When the video begins, the mother is outside of the car and on her knees. She is not resisting and not posing a threat when all of the sudden one of the officers appears to kick her in the face.
The unidentified woman immediately drops to the ground as the officer yells at her, “Shut up,” and “I told you so.”
The cop then jumps on top of her as he continues scolding the woman. In the meantime, her children are hysterical in the back seat. The cop then grabs the woman by the handcuffs and yanks her so hard she comes off the ground. He then proceeds to drag her across the parking lot by the cuffs.
According to CBS SF, in a press release, the district attorney’s office said the woman had complied with Rodriguez’s orders and had gotten on the ground voluntarily. Nevertheless, Rodriguez yelled at the woman, “I’m going to kick you in the (expletive deleted) face,” before kicking her in the stomach, the DA’s office said.
“I couldn’t believe it to be honest,” Josh Gil said. “Especially after what’s happened and all the protests going on like it felt like none of that is making a change because police brutality will always exist. It was sad to be honest, especially hearing the kids in hysteria in the back.”
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“It was nothing like she was trying to run or anything — she was already on her knees, there wasn’t much she could have done,” Jonathan Gastelum, another eyewitness to the incident, said.
“It was a scary situation for everybody,” Gastelum said. “It was just — it was just bad.”
In his report, Rodriguez lied and claimed the mother was resisting. However, Gil's video and the officer's body camera caught him in that lie.
After the video began to go viral on Twitter, San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia said the department launched a review of the incident. He urged citizens to stop short of judging the officers who held small children at gunpoint while savagely abusing their mother — because vehicle registration.
“I understand the scrutiny we are going to receive when these type of videos go viral. We’re not going to run away from it,” Garcia said. “But what you’re seeing is a small clip of a larger situation.”
Apparently the "larger situation" was the cop's lies and the fact that the innocent mother had harmed no one.
After her arrest, the victim was booked into Santa Clara County Jail for resisting arrest, driving on a suspended license, and possession of paraphernalia. She was later released. After a review of the case, the DA’s office declined to file charges against her.
This woman was suspected of a minor traffic infraction and her entire family was held at gunpoint as she was savagely kicked in the face, dragged across the parking lot by handcuffs, and then thrown in a cage. The only "victims" in this entire violent debacle was the woman and her family.
Many police supporters will say that she should have just paid her registration and none of this would have happened. But these people lack the empathy to understand this family's position. State fees for driving in California can total in the hundreds of dollars. If you are late paying them, you are hit with penalties that keep adding up and, like the woman in the video below, subject to arrest.
Many families have to choose between feeding their children and paying the state for the privilege of driving just to get to work. If this woman had gone to jail over her unpaid fees, it means she can no longer work to earn money to feed her children, which is a powerful impetus behind fleeing a traffic stop.