Sheriff Parkinson admits to officer brutality

January 21, 2013

Jesus Ruiz, Ashley Rodriguez and Edward Gutierrez


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

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Without a Law Enforcement Badge this would be labeled a HATE CRIME…!!!

The veil of protection behind the thin blue line can be pierced in the event of civil rights abuses. Normally, the department and the county will absorb the cost of officer misconduct. In this case, the courts will have an easy time of allowing the officer’s individual assets to be pursued. It isn’t going to be just the county taxpayers that end up paying these victims.

For your review, California Civil Code 52.3:

(a) No governmental authority, or agent of a governmental

authority, or person acting on behalf of a governmental authority,

shall engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement

officers that deprives any person of rights, privileges, or

immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the

United States or by the Constitution or laws of California.

Since this is heading to federal court, expect to see 18 USC 242 brought into play:

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

18 USC 241 will also apply if it is determined that more than 1 person conspired to oppress civil rights.

Law enforcement officers are no different than the rest of us. They have issues with the everyday just as we all do. In addition they are tasked to deal with not only their own personal issues, but society’s issues as well.

I’s time we take the time, and make the effort to ensure that these men and women are mentally and emotionally capable of doing their job. We certainly make sure they are physically fit, but do we spend enough time and energy making sure they are up to the task of conducting law enforcement in an unbiased, fair and rational manner.

Our diverse culture demands a clear understanding of our complexities.

“Our diverse culture demands a clear understanding of our complexities.” I disagree; civil rights are not “complex”, they are rather simple, kind of like the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do to you”- if you are a law enforcement officer and you observe someone break a law, you have no “right” to be as hostile to them as you wish. That person observed breaking the law deserves every amount of respect of any other person, citizen or not, unless perhaps the act observed is a rape or murder. In this particular case, to me at least, it seems that most of the deputies involved went beyond an acceptable use of force. If Sheriff Parkinson cannot see that, he is wrong, period. All LEOs need to be able to protect themselves when confronting a suspected lawbreaker, none should ever “get away” with using excessive force. I hope this lawsuit goes forward and is decided in a manner that puts our sheriff’s department on notice that excessive force is never acceptable.

Agreed Bob.

No matter what, one of our founding principles is that we are all considered innocent until proven guilty.

Is this how any presumed innocent person should ever be treated?

If civil rights are so simple, why has it taken 200+ years to adequately address the issue…and still no resolution?

I think you may have misconstrued the intention of what I was trying to state; the very definition of our rights has been an ongoing struggle as you state, I agree. But that is the legal definition that is supposed to apply equally to everyone everywhere which requires overcoming very long embedded prejudices; what I was trying to state is how on a one-to-one basis when we relate to other people, there is, at least should be, an inherent recognition that each other person has all of the same rights that we individually have.

In this particular situation of this traffic stop gone horribly bad, the actions of all of the officers involved need to be reviewed independently of the agency they work for. There is absolutely no way any law enforcement agency can objectively review the actions of its own officers when the trampling of citizens’ civil rights is in question; most “in-house” reviews are designed to protect the agency in question to the point of supporting the officer’s actions, no matter how egregious those actions are (kneeing a woman in the crotch with such force as to cause bleeding, knocking down an older woman by kneeing her in the back) – those actions were judged by our Sheriff’s Department as either “okay” or “justified”? NOT ACCEPTABLE. The termination of Deputy Hurl was just and called for; the not-even-a-slap-on-the-wrist of the other deputies is what really upsets me; good luck to the plaintiffs in this federal lawsuit.

As to you question: ” … and still no resolution?” Slowly, carefully, more civil rights definitions have come forward, been identified and rectified. But then again, there is still those who will attempt to squash those very rights if given the chance; how many of us here in California would put up with standing in line to vote for 4, 6, or 8 hours? And who is responsible for that happening in Ohio and Florida? Certainly not the liberals ….

Exactly right. We need a citizen oversight committee in this county with some real power and with some real independence. I am sure that not all citizen complaints against officers are justified but as long as the LEOs don’t clean their own house, someone needs to be sure it gets done.

(This was supposed to be a reply to mkaney.)

We also need a Grand Jury that is willing to stir the pot when it needs stirred.

I filed 4 citizens complaints..Kamarla Harris.. is involved.. No response from San Luis Sheriff Department..Now I see why.. Busy.. If these people feel they need to file with LA.. to see a fair hearing. That is sad..

Have the Sheriffs department taken that saying off the side of their cars yet? “Protect and Serve”! Yeah, right!

I would guess the saying will stay because it doesn’t say “Protect and Serve” whom.

It is a very sad thing when one considers that a rogue LEO can beat up an innocent and the only thing that the loved ones of the innocent victim can do is stand back and watch. It would seem that right or WRONG, during the time that the rogue LE are in control, they have a license to mane, beat, torture and kill. That just isn’t right, there should be a law that say’s when the LE are clearly out of order, then they have no more rights than any other citizen in my opinion.

To the two cops that beat the ladies up especially the one that kneed the woman in the vagina causing her injury and bleeding, well I’m sure you can guess what I’d like to do to you. I’m going to stop here because the more I think of this incident, the angrier I get.

My guess would the two cops who beat up the women aren’t worried and feel they did nothing wrong

There are 2 classes of people in this country: Military or civilian. If you are not under a contract beholden to governement service, you are a civilian. There isn’t anything in our Constitution that permits 1 group to have more rights than any other group, despite what may be happening now days.

Have the public servants forgotten who is supposed to be in charge???

They don’t act like public servants. They act more like our SUPERIORS.

Hurl was on probation so it was easy to get rid of him, but what about the others? Hard to believe that Hurl (by himself) injured everyone.

Testimony in a law suit would probably tell the whole story but Ill bet that Parkinsion will try to settle it so as to avoid the public knowing what really happened. Are there police car video tapes available?

Either way the public taxpayer had better get ready to open their checkbook


you are missing the point. No one is saying that Hurl injured everyone by himself, what is being said is that these officers were behaving within the guidelines of the sheriffs department. Its OK for officers to brutally assault women as long as the bruises dont show. The mistake that Hurl made is that there is a video or photos of the taser marks or other evidence that Parkinson cannot lie about. Remember, these are the guys that kill people in trailer parks, in jail cells and on the highways. If we are going to take away guns from folks lets start with the county sheriffs, we would all be safer. The really sick part of this in our lilly white little community is that Parkinson and his boys will get away with this because the victims as usual are not upper class whites from downtowm SLO. What would be nice would be if they would go after Hill or Gibson for being little bearded perverts.

The other deputies were exonerated because the people of the state of California no longer have the right to defend themselves against unlawful arrest… therefore when his family came to his aid, it was within department guidelines to beat them up too. This is unfortunate, but it’s a perfect example to people that you HAVE NO RIGHTS, period, except those which are granted to you by government and law enforcement.

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