SLO County pays settlement in brutalization case

October 3, 2013
Jesus Ruiz, Ashley Rodriguez and Edward Gutierrez

Jesus Ruiz, Ashley Rodriguez and Edward Gutierrez

A Nipomo family allegedly brutalized by a sheriff’s deputy during a stop for a minor traffic violation in 2012 agreed to a $150,000 settlement from San Luis Obispo County.

In July 2012, deputy Steven Hurl pulled behind Jesus Ruiz who had been driving approximately 15 miles over the speed limit. Ruiz had just pulled into a driveway after leaving church

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 the lawsuit filed in January by attorney James McKiernan.

Hearing the commotion, Ruiz’s girlfriend Ashley Rodriquez, his mother Alma Gutierrez and his brother Edward Gutierrez 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.”

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

Gutierrez then filed a complaint with the sheriff’s department alleging three deputies used unnecessary physical violence against four members of her family. An investigation by the sheriff’s department determined one of three officers accused of excessive force had acted inappropriately.

Hurl, a recent hire who was under probation at the time of the incident, was let go 10 days after the incident.


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There’s a new type of video-game-bred, shoot-first cop entering the police forces of America that the older cops are saying they are scared of because of their tendency to over-react with violence when other options are available to de-escalate situations. It is a huge and growing problem throughout the United States.

The psychological profile of these violence prone cops is nearly identical to the profiles of violence prone criminals. Violent video games, where there is no real consequence to the gamer for killing people, are breeding people who gravitate to one of three career paths: criminality, military and law enforcement.

There are many fine people in military and law enforcement, of course, but they are on their way to being outnumbered if something serious is not done to address the problem

I have several friends who are police officers and deputy sheriffs. They are in my age group (50ish) and they say the kids in their 20’s and early 30’s scare the hell out of them.

They say the kids have an inflated sense of entitlement and authority. They don’t view themselves as public servants but more as “garbage collectors.”

It is important to remind them that the California Penal Code defines them as peace officers, not law enforcement officers.

Most of my police officer friends are going to leave California when they retire. High taxes is the first reason they cite followed usually with a comment about not wanting “these bozos” to be their police. It kind of bothers me that they have such a low opinion of these “kids”; when I read this kind of story it makes me think they have a point..

Burton the Bastard (Badge 4181) of the Paso Robles Police Dept is a corrupt, power-drunken punk who rewards violent criminals while punishing their victims.

Great for the family .Now can someone tell me what you do when a police agency denies you access to your own home that has been in your family, bought and paid for since 1958. do you have to get totally brutalized here to get justice as a homeowner?

I’m not following you. Tell us the story.

I rented rooms out in my home. called police as one of the tenants was said to be under the influence of methamphetamine.when police showed up suspect ran in house. when I asked to enter my home to check and see if he was in open area (not behind locked door) I was told no! this decision by police because they claimed that because I was in garage tending to a sick animal and being with this pet in garage that I no longer lived in house and had actually rented out my entire house basically relinquishing all rights to enter this home. these tenants have paid little to NO rent in 2 months. I can’t afford to evict them. have no food for days on end. yet, I have called every legal resource and am now being forced out of my home to a homeless shelter. the predators are protected here in slo county.

gangsta1, The question is did you rent out a bedroom to each tenant with privileges to use and share the kitchen and living area with you or did you rent out the house? Did you live in the house yourself or did you live in the garage? If you didn’t live in the house yourself and didn’t have a written agreement stating that you retain rights to use the house in conjunction with the renters, then you can not legally enter without 24 hour notice unless there is a serious water leak or the like that requires emergency attention etc.

You need to evict these tenants and you should have a month to month rental agreement in place with them. You have to follow the rules by starting with a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit. There is a remedy to all this but you have to follow the rules. There are steps on line that can give you all the info you need to have these tenants served and evicted. If you started the process when they first stopped paying rent or when you first decided that you didn’t want them as tenants, they would have been out already.


While you are technically right in your advice, practically speaking, if gangsta1 is low income himself, the cost of following that advice and the length of the process may make it impossible for him. I speak from experience about the difficulty of evicting a bad tenant (sub-tenant in my case) — especially one who knows how to game the system and doesn’t care who loses as long as it isn’t him/her. Meth-heads are not necessarily dumb in other ways even if they are idiots about getting hooked in the first place.

Meth addicts are also prone to irrationally destructive behavior when called on their failings. The cops don’t like it when you confront them and try to deal with that behavior without their involvement. Bad cops take it a step further and may charge you for possession of drugs even though you don’t have anything to do with it and want to be rid of them.

At least Parkinson fired the deputy…Hedges would have given him a medal.

As well as a promotion to Chef Deputy…


Like Burton the Bastard?

This was total un necessary force, period,either incited by these people being Mexican,or the Sherrifs were on a high voltage power trip,none of this was necessary, I too would have gone to court on this matter.

I believe in the use of force and restraint when necessary, this was not one of those times.

You really don’t know if you would truly “go to court” or, as this family did, settle out of court. It’s a huge gamble with the odds against the person injured by the police. Do the research. LOTS of victims of police brutality end up with NOTHING but bills from lawyers after “going to court”. It’s a real shame, but the system is weighed heavily in favor of the cops when it ends up before a jury. We hear of the handful of huge settlements from some cases, but we don’t hear of all the others.

I too might “go to court” if this happened to me, but you shouldn’t be too quick to judge others for their decision, especially without knowing all the relevant facts and circumstances. That’s all I’m saying.

What are the names of the other two deputies?

If those deputies had done something like that to me and my family especially my mother, they wouldn’t be getting off for $150K. As for the rest of what I’m thinking, I won’t say it on line.

The family should have refused to settle and taken this to a jury. I know if I were on a jury and heard something like this, I’d make an example of what it costs to beat people up under the color of the law.

That is part of what is wrong in America, GREED! This family settled for a reasonable amount, the deputy was fired and hopefully the sheriff’s department learned from this and improved their policies. Thanks to the families involved for not making this about the financial reward but rather about justice!

Good post.

Obviously, cooler heads prevailed. Although with all that violence, finding only 1 body to throw under the bus (and a probation at that) seems like a sacrifice, not so much justice.

I’d like to see the arguments in the case; was there probably cause, prior history, etc… or was this simple brutality like the article makes it out to be.

While I am sure Ian is a nice guy, he really was not the best man for the job; too political. Sorry, just how I see it.

You think it was good enough that one of the deputies was fired! He should have been prosecuted for assault and then fired and jailed. This was the equivalent of a gang of thugs beating up women, kicking or kneeing one of them in the vagina and slamming an elderly woman to the ground with a knee to her back while tassing the men.

The worst part is that no one could help because this was the SO CALLED LAW. In any other case, these thugs would have ended up with their butts kicked by the neighbors and been in the hospital and then charged, jailed and prosecuted. You think watching something like that happen to your family under the color of AUTHORITY is worth 150K? It isn’t worth any amount of money and I’ll tell you what I would have agreed to, I would have agreed to NO MONEY providing these LE were prosecuted just like any other citizen who did something like that. FIRED, PROSECUTED and left with a criminal record never to be in a position to do that to another citizen under the color of authority ever again.

The fact is that BY FAR, most police brutality cases that go before a jury end up with the police being vindicated, even in the most egregious cases where it seems, to you and me, that it was obvious that the cop went far over the line.

Attorneys for the brutal cops are usually successful in putting doubt into the mind of jurors, bringing up all kinds of reasons the cop had to fear or defend himself from the person who was ultimately brutalized.

We can expect may more police brutality cases to emerge. Studies are showing that violent kids who grow up thoughtlessly “killing” people in video games are attracted to police careers and are much more likely to reflexively resort to violence during confrontations rather than applying techniques to defuse situations.

Way back when I took a law enforcement course… my professor said that there was a very fine line between cops and criminals, and both often come from similar lifestyles and backgrounds, but obviously one choosing to uphold laws, the other choosing to break them.

His point was, I believe, that psychologically, many LEO’s are near-matches for many Perps, on the basics.

I agree, except for “one choosing to uphold laws, the other choosing to break them.”

It’s just a matter of whether the bad ones get caught. We have lots of examples of local LEOs being caught smuggling drugs into the country, selling cell phones to prisoners, stealing drugs, blackmailing other criminals, harassing citizens, etc.

Burton the Bastard (Badge 4181) is a clone of the road-rage criminal from L.A. County who rear-ended me on purpose with his face contorted in road rage.

I am wondering if it is just the video games that are creating this problem. Is it possible that the police academies have started to select for people more prone to aggression? If not, I would bet that they are at least not making enough of an effort to weed out the bad ones?

What about training, either in the academy or on the job later? Do they put any emphasis on techniques for de-escalation of a situation or do they simply say that the only priority is to not let anything threaten you without responding with a display of power and dominance? I suspect that too much emphasis is on the assumption that everyone a cop encounters is a potential threat to their lives and not enough is on the acquisition and use of judgment in dealing with the public. The “us against everyone else” mentality is too prevalent. The far too infrequent and gentle punishments for abuse of power doesn’t help either.