Sheriff deputy assault was family affair

January 17, 2013

bruise 2By KAREN VELIE

Driving from a celebration at a local church, donning a dress shirt and tie, a 5 foot 3 inch Nipomo man was not worried when a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputy pulled behind the car he had just parked in a friend’s driveway for what appeared to be a routine traffic stop last July.

However, deputy Steven Hurl, without “explanation or justification,” pointed a gun at Jesus Ruiz, called for backup, began yelling commands, shot Ruiz in the back and then the side with a Taser gun, elbowed him in the head and clubbed him repeatedly, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Before it was over, Ruiz’s battered body would be covered in bruises.

Three to four more deputies arrived before Ruiz’s girlfriend Ashley Rodriquez, his mother Alma Gutierrez and his brother Edward Gutierrez heard the commotion and stepped out of the home at 257 Vintage Street.

One of the deputies approached Rodriquez, a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy who had a tumor removed from her hip a few months earlier, and kneed her in the back causing her to fall to the ground and knocking her wig from her head. She was then cuffed and held on the ground.

The officer then charged Alma Gutierrez and kneed her in the crotch “causing her extensive vaginal bleeding,” the lawsuit says.

Another deputy slammed Edward Gutierrez into a patrol car before cuffing him and placing him on the ground. He was the only family member who did not require medical attention for his injuries, which were limited to contusions on his arms.

For about two hours, Ruiz, Rodriquez and Alma and Edward Gutierrez were kept handcuffed in the yard while the deputies performed background checks.

bruise 1The deputies then transported, booked and detained Ruiz in the San Luis Obispo County Jail for resisting arrest, though no charges were ever filed against any of the alleged victims or the three deputies.

After he was released, Ruiz went to Arroyo Grande Hospital where he was treated for contusions, hematomas and puncture wounds. He has received further treatment for damage to his elbow and stress related issues, according to medical records.

He has been unable to completely return to work, the lawsuit says.

Rodriquez went to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria where she was treated for pain at the site of her previous operation and her right chest where she had a Port-a-Cath, according to medical records.

The lawsuit accuses the deputies of “excessive and unlawful force, false imprisonment, misconduct, unlawful arrest, assault and battery, violation of civil rights and negligence.”

Shortly after the incident, Hurl’s employment was terminated by the sheriff’s department. It has not been disclosed whether the other officers involved were disciplined for their actions.

San Luis Obispo based attorney James McKiernan is seeking unspecified general and special damages for his clients.

 


38 Comments

  1. OldNed says:

    Wow. Yes, the fact that these are allegations of a lawsuit is sort of obliquely dropped in the second pararagraph, but this story is presented more as a factual description of what occurred than as the summary of allegations of a lawsuit. That’s pretty sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  2. pasoparent5 says:

    Something’s fishy here; none of this makes much sense. Are we hearing all sides of the story?
    Sheriff Ian was on North County talk radio earlier this week; too bad the host didn’t ask him about these allegations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

    • obispan says:

      I’m thinking that’s not why the Sheriff goes on KPRL or KVEC. It’s a talk show about larger issues, not a Sheriff’s press briefing on an incident. If it happens often or the Sheriff does not respond appropriately to an incident it may become a larger issue. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We could not lose in the last Sheriff’s election. Both Joe Cortez and Ian Parkinson would be a big step up. Parkinson got the job and seems to be doing o.k.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

    • kettle says:

      pasoparent5 says: “Something’s fishy here; none of this makes much sense.”

      Really? Deputy Hurl beats down some citizen’s for a imagined crime (no real charges) and gets fired and sued.

      No mystery.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

  3. abigchocoholic says:

    However, deputy Steven Hurl, without “explanation or justification,” pointed a gun at Jesus Ruiz, called for backup, began yelling commands, shot Ruiz in the back and then the side with a Taser gun, elbowed him in the head and clubbed him repeatedly, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Before it was over, Ruiz’s battered body would be covered in bruises.
    ——————
    What? Come on. Give us a full story. This is worse than one sided. It’s so cryptic and emotionally provoking and inciting and one sided.

    If this really is all there is, a guy gets stopped for a routine traffic stop then next thing is being shot with a taser and beaten and accused of resisting arrest over nothing? If true, it’s about disgusting as it gets for police behavior. But that’s a big “if”.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 33 Thumb down 14

    • pasoparent5 says:

      Agreed, chocoholic. I’m not saying excessive force is never used and I’m not excusing it *IF* it indeed happened…but something just doesn’t sound right in this story, especially why it took 6 months to even hear about it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

    • obispan says:

      There was absolutely a reason for this attack, and we absolutely know we will not be told why. If it wasn’t something between the cop and this guy it was between the cop and someone they thought he was. Or maybe the cop just when nuts. All the other deputies may have known was they were responding to a lone officer dealing with a “resisting arrest” in a gang-infested area and were very aggressive in getting full physical control of the situation fast Definitely something going on given the speed of the termination. No desk duty, paid/unpaid leave, or defense by the deputies association.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        The public needs to demand a FULL ACCOUNTING of this incident. The more we hear about it, the more questions it generates. It’s time for answers.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

    • kettle says:

      Don’t worry, with the lawsuit he now gets discovery and we will find out if there is tape in the patrol cars recorder.

      I think there must video for Hurl to have his employment terminated so fast, union and all.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

      • obispan says:

        Patrol car’s video only faces forward. New technology allows for tiny cameras on the shoulder epaulets (a loop of fabric on the shoulder of the uniform shirt where rank is displayed) gives a cop’s eye view. Kinda controversial.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

        • kayaknut says:

          The same as why the prison guard union doesn’t want cameras in most areas of a prison, not only would it catch the prisoners doing wrong, but it would catch the guards as well. so the union has fought it for years, same goes for cell jammers.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  4. The Gimlet Eye says:

    It would be better to put the phrase, “according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday,” up front in the article. It’s better to know the source of the narrative at the very beginning.

    To put it anywhere else is very misleading and smacks of sensationalism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 8

  5. bobfromsanluis says:

    Perhaps the SLO Sheriff’s Department needs to hire John Ryan Mason so he can be the deputies sparring partner when they feel the need to blow off steam, and by beating on each other maybe they won’t be so likely to go off on the very citizens that pay their salaries. /snark.

    Most likely, any “training” that law enforcement receives that includes more aggressive offensive tactics only serves to have the officer slip into that mode when they get into an adrenaline fueled situation like just about any confrontation. I want law enforcement officers to be able to defend themselves, but this focus on being able to put more “hurt” on a potential law breaker is apparently going way too far. Instead of bringing in MMA fighters to train LEOs, perhaps a more defensive art like Aikido should be investigated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 11

  6. Niles Q says:

    Arrested for resisting arrest, as ludicrous as that souds, it happens all the time. It’s the cops’ fall back charge when they can’t pin anything else on you.
    It can be anything from moving too slow when given and order — like get on the ground, to fighting with the cops, or even mouthing off when someone else is being arrested.
    If a cop tells you to shut up, you better do it or you too could find yourself under arrest for resisting or obstructing.
    Basically, if you don’t do exactly what the cop tells you to do and do it immediately you could be charged with resisting arrest or obstructing an officer.
    This in no way excuses a cop kneeing a woman in the crotch. I’m glad they fired the one cop and they should fire the others too.
    Abusive cops are the worst of the worse.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 9

  7. SLOTECH90 says:

    Hurl was “separated from SLOSD on July 25 and the incident occurred on the 10th. Suppose we have to wait for the trial-if there is one-to find out the reasons for this aberrant police behavior. It’s hard for me to fathom how the reputation and public image of SLOSD can sink any lower.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 5

  8. Scarlet says:

    This is HORRIFYING! Please let us know who the other deputies were, and where they are now.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 10

  9. Cindy says:

    Expect more of this. The same type of behavior occurred under Parkinson’s watch when he was with the SLOPD. He even brushed it under the rug and allowed evidence to be destroyed so why wouldn’t it occur now that he is the #1 GOB at the SLOSD?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 36 Thumb down 15

    • kayaknut says:

      I will bet any dash cams that could have recorded this will strangely be found to have had techincal difficulties

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 50 Thumb down 9

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