Contra Costa County, CA – Ricardo Hernandez has filed a lawsuit against Contra Costa County and the sheriff’s deputies in reference to his arrest that took place on May 5, 2018.
The lawsuit alleges that police officers beat him unconscious and then lied in the police reports to justify charging him with resisting arrest.
According to the lawsuit which was filed in federal court Monday, Hernandez, then 19, was seated in the backseat of a stolen car with his friends. Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Battles noticed the car did not have its lights on and after running the plates, he learned the car had been reported stolen. After Deputy Battles stopped the car and other deputies arrived for backup, the people in the car were removed at gunpoint.
According to court documents, Hernandez complied with orders given by the deputies to walk backward with his hands on his head, but Battles placed him in a “carotid hold” – a controversial neck hold that is permitted by some police departments – until Hernandez lost consciousness.
The police body camera video of the encounter shows some of the arrest. During part of the video, at least one deputy can be heard saying “he’s out, he’s out, he’s out.”
The lawsuit argues that even after the deputy can be heard saying “he’s out,” Battles continued to instruct Hernandez to give him his left hand to be handcuffed even though he knew the man was unconscious.
The lawsuit also alleges that Battles struck Hernandez in the head and neck six times with his flashlight, and another deputy, Joseph Anderson, beat Hernandez’s right shoulder area.
According to the lawsuit, Battles withdrew his firearm and put the tip of it on Hernandez’s “unconscious” head.
The suit also alleges that Battles and Anderson “falsely” stated in their reports that Hernandez was flailing his arms. The lawsuit emphasizes that Hernandez was unconscious.
Hernandez was not charged in connection with the stolen car. He was only charged with resisting arrest but the charge was dismissed in late December 2019, according to a spokesman for the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.
Hernandez’s attorney, Stanley Goff, said the criminal charge being dropped is part of a “troubling tactic or strategy” by police to ward off accusations of excessive force.
“This is a law enforcement trend used across California,” Goff said in an interview. “Without question, if you see a case involving excessive force, looking deeper … (the person) was most likely charged with PC 148.”
The lawsuit seeks general, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees and any other relief the court “deems fit and proper.”