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.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’m no expert, but something is not adding up here. There must be more to this story that we aren’t hearing or seeing.