Contra Costa County, CA — The taxpayers of Contra Costa County will soon be shelling out some serious settlement money after a teenager was brutally choked until he fell unconscious and then beaten even more after — by a cop's flashlight. Body camera footage from the disturbing incident shows that after cops beat Ricardo Hernandez, then 19, they lied in their police reports to cover their crimes and justify their false arrest.
In one of the first of its kind cases, a jury has found that officers at the scene that night, failed to intervene and stop what jurors believe was excessive force by a Contra Costa County Sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop.
The verdict was made in civil court and calls for Hernandez to receive $500,000 in damages.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Federal Court, Hernandez was a passenger in the backseat of a stolen car which he did not know was stolen. In fact, none of the occupants knew it was stolen. Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Battles pulled the car over after noticing it was driving with no lights. When he ran the plates, he found the car was stolen and called for backup.
As the video shows, all the teens were ordered out of the car one by one at gunpoint. Hernandez complied with the orders to walk backward with his hands on his head. However, as the video shows, instead handcuffing the compliant teen, Battles put him in a “carotid hold” — a type of neck restraint — until Hernandez lost consciousness.
"I don’t feel I did anything wrong," Hernandez said. "I was a little scared because there were a lot of officers."
As Mercury News reported:
Video from a police body camera reviewed by this news organization shows some of the scene of the arrest, including a clip where at least one deputy can be heard saying “he’s out, he’s out, he’s out.”
The lawsuit argues that when the deputy said “he’s out,” referring to Hernandez, Battles knew that meant Hernandez was unconscious but that Battles continued to instruct him to give his left hand to be handcuffed.
After the deputies repeatedly demand Hernandez “stop resisting” in the video, one can be seen hitting him with a flashlight.
The lawsuit alleges that Battles struck Hernandez in the head and neck six times with his flashlight, and another deputy, Joseph Anderson, beat Hernandez’s right shoulder area.
“I will (expletive) shoot you,” a deputy’s voice can be heard saying in the video. The lawsuit states that this is the voice of Battles who had his pistol the head of this unconscious teenager as he beat him with a flashlight.
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"Thank God I’m still alive," Hernandez said. "He was there protecting me because in my perspective I would have been dead."
The entire time, according to court documents, Richmond Officer Brandon Hodges stood by and watched as Battles inflicted his punishment on the innocent teenager.
"There is no way to whitewash this," attorney Fulvio Cajina said to KTVU. "What Deputy Battles did was wrong and egregious and the fact that no one, including officers from Richmond PD did anything to stop him shows that they’re liable for this conduct."
After they knocked the teen unconscious and savagely beat his limp body, these cops then lied in their reports, according to the lawsuit. They falsely claimed Hernandez was flailing his arms. But according to the lawsuit and the video, this was a lie.
After he was knocked unconscious and beaten, Hernandez was hospitalized for his injuries. He was then charged with resisting arrest. He was not charged in connection with the stolen car.
Once the evidence in the case was presented to the District Attorney, Hernandez' charges were thrown out. Scott Alonso, of the District Attorney’s Office, said that after reviewing evidence, including video, the prosecutor dropped the charges “in the interest of justice,” according to Mercury News.
The lawsuit also names Chance Lopes and a man it identifies at Lieutenant Wooden because they failed to intervene and stop the maniac cop from bashing in an innocent and unconscious teenager's head in with a flashlight.
Last year, Contra Costa County settled the excessive force part of the lawsuit for $260,000 but Richmond fought the failure to intervene portion — and now they've lost.
Unfortunately, despite taxpayers being placed on the hook for nearly 7 figures, none of the officers in the video below faced discipline in this matter.