Sheriff Parkinson admits to officer brutality

January 21, 2013
gutierrez

Jesus Ruiz, Ashley Rodriguez and Edward Gutierrez

By KAREN VELIE

In response to a citizen complaint, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson  confirmed that under the color of authority a deputy used excessive and unnecessary force in dealing with a minor traffic violation.

Under former sheriff Pat Hedges, the internal investigation unit had been disbanded. In 2010 there were 25 complaints against sheriff department employees. In 2011, Parkinson announced his plans to bring back the internal affairs unit to investigate citizens’ complaints brought against sheriff’s department personnel.

In the case of a Nipomo family illegally brutalized by several officers last summer, the sheriff department investigation determined one of three officers accused of excessive force had acted inappropriately.

Last July, Deputy Steven Hurl pulled behind Jesus Ruiz who had just pulled into a driveway after leaving church. The 5 foot 3 inch Nipomo man, who at the time was dressed in a shirt and tie, was driving approximately 15 miles over the speed limit.

Hurl pointed a gun at the alleged speeder, 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 by attorney James McKiernan.

Shortly after the altercation that left Ruiz covered in bruises, his mother Alma Gutierrez filed a complaint with the sheriff’s department alleging three deputies used unnecessary physical violence against four members of her family.

The department responded with a statement on Sept. 25 that said an investigation confirmed her complaint against deputy Hurl, but not against two other deputies who arrived later on the scene.

Shortly after three to four additional officers responded to Hurl’s request for backup, 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 allegedly 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. The same officer then charged Alma Gutierrez and kneed her in the crotch “causing her extensive vaginal bleeding.”

Another deputy slammed Edward Gutierrez into a patrol car before cuffing him and placing him on the ground.

Three of the four family alleged victims required medical treatment for their injuries.

McKiernan filed a lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court last week against Hurl and the two other deputies who are listed as Deputy Paul and Deputy Voissem.

Nevertheless, McKiernan said he will attempt to have the case moved out of the county to avoid a conflict of interest.

“Anyway you look at the case, it’s a bad situation for everybody… my clients, local law enforcement and the county,” McKiernan said. “Everyone’s been hurt.

“The fairest solution for all, as I see it, is to file in United States District Court in Los Angeles which has jurisdiction over San Luis Obispo County. A federal judge and unbiased federal jurors, unconnected to San Luis Obispo, will be able to consider and resolve the matter.”

San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office PSU Response by CalCoastNews


68 Comments

  1. 805code4 says:

    Our District Attorney’s Office should be indicted too for the intimidation of Matt Hart with threats of malicious prosecution to dissuade a lawsuit, and not prosecuting the Deputy (that should have known better) who openly violated said victims 4th amendment rights on audio/video as though he answers to nobody!

    Represent the PEOPLE of this county too Gerald Shea. EARN what you take and start delivering the same standard of justice to cops and civilians equally because credibility and respect for Law Enforcement Officers and the over all faith in the legal system hangs by a thread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Ohhhh, the stories of police brutality are endless………

    “Criminals With Badges”: Denver’s Militarized Police

    http://libertarianstandard.com/articles/william-n-grigg/criminals-with-badges-denvers-militarized-police/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Nothing unusual about SLO County, though. It’s happening everywhere:

    Epileptic man mistaken for drug abuser beaten by Indianapolis police, lawsuit claims

    Randy Lynn jailed on 3 charges, later dropped

    http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/epileptic-man-mistaken-for-drug-abuser-beaten-by-indianapolis-police-lawsuit-claims

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. Willow says:

    I’m glad Parkinson fired the brute.

    Unfortunately, it’s the taxpayers who will be compensating the family, which is most unfortunate, because the financial burden to compensate the victims should be paid by the out-of-control brute who inflicted the harm.

    This is only but one part of why government is so corrupt in this country and county – there really is not much in the way of “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY” for those on the government dole. It is as tho’ they are immune from having to acknowledge that they “owe” us, the people who are FORCED to PAY for their livelihoods, anything in return – including RESPECT and ACCOUNTABILITY.

    The legislators and courts set it up that way – that way, they can do whatever they want and get away with it – nice “system” they’ve rigged for themselves, isn’t it?

    I do believe a people’s referendum on the ballot could possibly change that – just have it state: “The public will no longer be made to bear the burden of the compensation due to the citizenry for abuse of privileges perpetrated by elected government officials or government employees. All public officials and employees are to pay for the consequences of their actions out of their own pocket.”

    I think that would end a lot of the abuses going on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Good comment, Willow, very interesting ideas.

      This whole situation needs to be reviewed carefully from top to bottom. The taxpayers really need to do some soul searching on this. One would hope that they would eventually find it in themselves to exert more control over both the police and the city councils they elect.

      Ostensibly, the latter two only do what they have been elected or hired to do. If the taxpayers are unhappy with their performance, then they need to get rid of the current city council and elect a new one. They also need to rein in the police department. Anybody in the SLO PD who is not on board with this needs to go.

      The taxpayers need to assert themselves more.

      When things like this happen, I look beyond the brute to the chief of police and the city council, perhaps beyond that as well. They also have much to answer for. This happened on their watch and in their name.

      However, it happened in the taxpayers name, too. That’s the hard part that we need to meditate on.

      Ultimately, these are police state tactics which should not be tolerated by any freedom loving people. If the folks in SLO don’t get that, God help them.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        Actually, this is in reference to the Sheriff’s Dept., but it goes double for SLO PD.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • 805code4 says:

      In deed. When you attend the 21 week P.O.S.T. (Police Academy) training program, you are taught to exceed the expected standard with a set of strict core values including integrity, duty, compassion, honor, courage and discipline. If every graduating recruit made it a point and a personal duty to carry these values into the agencies that find employment with, we would very seldom have these problems.

      It is also the duty of every officer to remind one another of these values when needed because the integrity and the credibility of the rest of the department and all other peripheral agencies should never suffer for the poor choices such as this. In this line of work, there is no margin for error because they affect more than just the officers and residents directly involved. The shock wave of damage can spread to affect the public trust of city, county and state agencies, create rigid enemies out of otherwise supporting members of the community, and the monetary damage to victims, families and to the community for loss of revenue that provides for all.

      Sheriff Parkinson has had taken on an enormous can of worms left by Hedges, but I truly believe in his ability and determination to turn things around for everyone in this county but everyone has to work together. Law Enforcement Officers, Citizens, District Attorney’s Office, Judges and even crooks all need to try to work with Sheriff Hedges for the greater good of all.

      I don’t really count on my one small voice making much of a difference, but I pray every day for a change for the better in my community after a few of my own experiences.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • 805code4 says:

        OOPS!!!! I’m a dummy! Should have proof read first. I meant Sheriff Parkinson, and not Hedges.

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