Police raid home and business of postal worker
August 12, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
In a page right out of the Keystone Cops, police kicked down the door of an unlocked home and then ransacked the property based on a bad tip from an informant.
At around 7 p.m. on Monday, an officer yelled “search warrant” outside a large plate glass window at Fashion Dry Cleaners in Atascadero. Moments later, an officer hit the window cracking it then another officer began beating out the glass with what looked like a bat.
A sergeant involved in the raid of the dry cleaners refused to give a reporter his name or what agency he worked for stating it was an “ongoing investigation” and that numerous agencies were involved.
An Atascadero police dispatcher said San Luis Police Department was the primary agency responsible for the raids.
In addition to SLOPD, Atascadero Police Department, the narcotics task force, and parole assisted in the raids, according to San Luis Obispo Police Department Public Information Officer Chris Staley
Approximately 10 officers participated in the raid of 55-year-old Yasuro Gonzales’ business while another team of law enforcement personnel smashed through a garage door at Gonzales’ San Miguel home.
“The front door was open,” Gonzales said. “They didn’t even try it. They told me to put a claim into the city (for damages to his home and business).”
San Luis Obispo County Judge Michael Duffy signed the warrant that allowed police to ransack Gonzales’s home while his 20-year-old son stood handcuffed in the front yard. According to the warrant, officers were searching for methamphetamine, paraphernalia used in preparing narcotics, financial records that show controlled substance transactions, and cell phones.
Gonzales left his home a little after 5 a.m. for his primary job with the postal service. At 4:30 p.m. he joined his wife at the family dry cleaners on El Camino Real. He arrived home a little after 7 p.m. to find eight officers searching his home and his son restrained.
“When I got home I asked, ‘Why is he handcuffed?’” Gonzales said. “They said, ‘For his own safety.’”
Gonzales’ 28-year-old son lives in an apartment next to the dry cleaners. Police arrested the son after they discovered one marijuana plant at the apartment during the raid. The officers found no illegal substances in their search of Gonzales’ home, Gonzales said.
The conflict between police and the Gonzales family began approximately six months ago when 30-year-old Luis Gonzales was released from prison after serving three months for a parole violation. He moved in with his father and for a few months he worked and stayed clean, Yasuro Gonzales said.
When Luis Gonzales appeared to be getting back into drugs his father asked him to move out. Luis Gonzales is currently in violation of his parole.
“How many times do we have to tell them he (Luis) is not welcome here,” Gonzales added. “I don’t want him on the street. I would rather see him in jail then on drugs.
“They have been by the dry cleaners at least three times looking for my son (Luis),” Gonzales said. “They have no respect. My other son was behind the building and an officer pulled a gun on him and made him get down on the ground. When he showed his identification they let him go.”
In addition to multiple stops at the dry cleaners, Gonzales said officers had entered his home on three prior occasions.
“They entered my 16-year-old daughter’s room and told her to get out,” Gonzales added. “They didn’t even tell me they were there. I was in bed. They told my son if we have to come again it was not going to be pretty.”
SLOPD Public Information Officer Staley said it is unusual when a search warrant does not produce the expected outcome during a raid. He declined to answer questions regarding whether narcotics where discovered during the raid, because “it is still an active investigation.”