A San Jose police officer has been put on administrative leave pending an investigation after he was caught on camera kicking a woman and dragging her across a parking lot, reports CBS San Francisco.
Video of a July 22 police encounter shows officers using excessive force on a woman in a McDonald’s parking lot.
The woman, who has been identified as Guadalupe Esperanza Marin according to KRON4, is seen being kicked in her side and tackled by the officer, while already on the ground. A second officer can be seen walking around the vehicle toward Marin while pointing a gun at her. The first officer then handcuffs her and drags her across the asphalt, as she is on her knees and facing the floor.
Josh Gil, who recorded the incident, said he saw the woman being compliant and there wasn't reason to use force.
“He gave her, like, a spartan kick, like an unnecessary spartan kick to the stomach,” Gil told the San Jose Spotlight. “You just see her wind get knocked out right off bat.”
compliant, yet he kicked her while she was on the ground and then continued to punch her and then DRAG HER???? THIS WAS AT MCDONALDS ON SANTA CLARA IN SAN JOSE!!!!! pic.twitter.com/F0kywklXK5
— Diannee ???? (@__dianeedun) July 23, 2020
Another eyewitness to the encounter, Jonathan Gastelum, said he saw Marin being dragged as the officer shouted “Shut up” and “I told you so.”
“It was nothing like she was trying to run or anything — she was already on her knees, there wasn’t much she could have done,” Gastelum told Mercury News.
Witnesses say there were two children in the vehicle who were crying as they watched the incident as well as another woman who was trying to inform officers that they had “just bought the car.”
“It was a scary situation for everybody. It was just, it was just bad,” Gastelum said.
The San Jose Police Department said force was used during the arrest because Marin did not comply with the officers.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia said that while he understands the outrage of people viewing the video, it doesn't provide full context.
“I understand the scrutiny we are going to receive when these type of videos go viral. We’re not going to run away from it,” he said. “But what you’re seeing is a small clip of a larger situation.”
Garcia said officers had been looking for the vehicle since July 18 after a person driving the car had been pulled over for an expired registration and drove off. Subsequently, a seizure warrant for the car had been issued. Officers attempted to pull over the car again on July 21, but the driver fled the scene once more. On July 22, they conducted a traffic stop which then escalated to the forceful encounter.
“A vehicle takes off from police twice, there are people in the car, and the officers don’t know what’s going on. People don’t flee from police for no reason,” Garcia said. “That said, I totally understand the sensitivity and the scrutiny here. We’re looking at the force that was used and analyzing it.”
Marin was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on charges of resisting arrest, driving on a suspended license and possession of paraphernalia, reports KRON4.
The officer, who has yet to be identified, is now on administrative leave, and an internal investigation is underway.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the use of force was not justified.
"It's important to understand, and for the public to understand fully, what exactly happened here. Having said that, it's not obvious that justifies the use of force we see in this video," he said according to CBS.
Liccardo said he asked the police chief to release the officers’ body camera footage of the incident. He also took to Twitter to call the officer’s behavior “appalling.”
This video is deeply disturbing, & the officer’s conduct appalling. This demands severe consequences. Last month I proposed moving misconduct investigations out of Internal Affairs to the Independent Police Auditor. We must do better—immediately.https://t.co/aR5n74PqPz
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) July 25, 2020
“This video is deeply disturbing, & the officer’s conduct appalling. This demands severe consequences,” he wrote. “Last month I proposed moving misconduct investigations out of Internal Affairs to the Independent Police Auditor. We must do better—immediately.”
LaDoris Cordell, a retired judge and a former San Jose independent police auditor, said this incident is a “prime example” of excessive use of force by officers.
"She is kneeling on the ground, there is no resistance. The officer then kicks her in the abdomen. He grabs her and drags her across the asphalt so her face is dragging on the ground to locate her away from the car. Again, another excessive use of force," she said.
Citing a number of excessive force allegations to hit SJPD in the past few months and an investigation into a Facebook group in which officers exchanged racist comments that led to four officers being put on leave — Cordell said that there is a larger problem within the department.
"This is not, in my view, about a bad apple. This is about a bad culture," she said.