JERRY L. STEERING’S MORE NOTABLE ORANGE COUNTY NOTABLE POLICE MISCONDUCT CASES.
Zion v. County of Orange, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Steering successfully. The young man grabbed a knife to protect himself from the imaginary police officers who were going to shoot him, and his mother and his roommate tried to take the knife from him; both of them being cut in the process. The young man then fled his Laguna Niguel condo and his mother called the police for help and deputies Higgins and Lopez arrived at the scene.
While Deputy Lopez was exiting his patrol car the young man run out of the shadows at him with a knife and as Deputy Lopez fell backwards, he kept the young man back, but close enough to stab the deputy’s arms, which he did. Deputy Higgins arrived right behind Deputy Lopez, saw him getting stabbed and shot the young man nine times; causing him to fell to the sidewalk. Then, while standing over the now severely injured and helpless young man, Deputy Higgins shot another nine bullets in the young man. That wasn’t enough for Deputy Higgins. Higgins proceeded to stomp the young man’s head three times until the young man stop breathing.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Deputy Higgins had the right to terminate the threat, but not the person; making an important new pronouncement about the limits of police officers’ right to kill others. See, Zion v. County of Orange, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Case Number 15-56705 (November 1, 2017). See also, “Deputy can be sued for excessive force for shooting a suspect and then stomping on his head”, Orange County Register, , Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2017.
Butano v. County of Orange, et al.; U.S. Dist. Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana) (2013); $727,500.00 for false arrest and unreasonable force. After the neighbors called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Ms. Butano’s boyfriend for threatening the gardeners next door for making too much noise, the deputies arrested the boyfriend and proceeded to tackle and thump Nancy Butano for telling the deputies that she was on an important business call and that she would be with them (at her front door) in a minute. She was arrested for “resisting / delaying a peace officer”, her infant children were taken to juvenile hall, and she was required to post bail even though she was arrested for a book and release on citation misdemeanor.
Baima v. County of Orange, et al; U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana)(2003); obtained $208,000.00 for false arrest / unreasonable force. A deputy sheriff forgot to turn off his microphone and Deputy George Kluchonic and (now) Sgt. James Fouste tortured, falsely arrested and attempted to frame Cory Baima. Then a 19 year old man, Cory Baima’s grandmother had called the police on him for playing his video games too loudly. Sgt. Fouste authored a false police report to attempt to frame Mr. Baima, and is still a Sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. George Kluchonic was criminally prosecuted for soliciting the destruction of his patrol video system video recording and was forced to retire from the police profession.
Mansfield v. City of Costa Mesa, United States District Court Case Number 8:05-cv-00133-CJC-RNB, (Santa Ana, Judge Carney).
Mr. Steering had a civil rights case in 2004 with the Costa Mesa Police Department for the wrongful shooting of her two dogs in Mansfield v. City of Costa Mesa, U.S. Dist. Court, Central Dist. of Cal. (Santa Ana) (2006), $225,000.00 settlement for unreasonable shooting of family pit bull and for unlawful seizure of person. Two Costa Mesa Police Department police officers chased Mrs. Mansfield’s 15 year old son and his friends to her home because the youth were not wearing bicycle helmets. The officers were so zealous to warn the youths that they jumped over the backyard wall of the Mansfield home; finding their two Rottweilers in the backyard. When the dogs growled at the officer, he shot them; killing them. See, City pays $225,000 in dog’s death – Orange County Register, September 29, 2006 and Costa Mesa Pays Family Over Killing of Pit Bull by 2 Officers, Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2006.
Hands v. City of Laguna Beach, Orange County, California, Superior Court (1989), $137,500.00 settlement, for false arrest and excessive force. See, “Laguna City Manager Urges Settlement in Couple’s Arrest Suit”, Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1991.
Gomez v. County of Orange, et al., U.S. Dist. Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles) (2011) obtained $2,163,799.53 for unreasonable force on convicted jail inmate.
Santos v. City of Garden Grove, et al. ,OC Weekly, September 30, 2009.Santos v. City of Garden Grove, et al.; U.S. District Court (Santa Ana) (2009) Mr. Steering obtained a $475,000.00 settlement from the City of Garden Grove for the false arrests and use of excessive force on several members of the Frank Santos family. See, Garden Grove Pays Half a Million to Settle Brutality Suit With Santos Family ,OC Weekly, September 30, 2009.
Several members of the Frank Santos family were brutalized and arrested at the birthday party for one of Frank and Gloria Santos’ daughters. Frank Santos’ brother-in-law’s truck was towed away from a closed shopping center parking lot around midnight.. When Mr. Santos’ brother-in-law noticed that his car was gone and saw a tow truck race away with his car, the brother-in-law called Garden Grove PD to see if someone had called in a tow of his vehicle. Frank Santos’ brother-in-law also happened to be a CHP officer who worked for the CHP auto-theft task force. He knew that car thieves often use tow trucks to make their taking of a vehicle to legitimate.
In response to that call, GGPD Officer Oomar Patel arrived at the scene. Frank Santos didn’t know that his brother-in-law had called the police, and when Officer Patel arrived at the scene Frank Santos asked him “Who the f__k called you”. That sent Officer Patel into a rage, sticking his nose close to Frank Santos’, backing him up against a brick wall. When Frank Santos attempted to diffuse the situation and walk away from Officer Patel., Patel tried to tackle Mr. Santos from behind and when he did his flying football tackle move on Mr. Santos (from behind), Mr. Santos simply bent down and Patel went flying over him, falling onto the street.
Patel then jumped up and pepper-sprayed several members of the Santos family. He also called for back up, saying that he was being attacked, that prompt a quick and very violent police response. Had it not been for the presence of the brother-in-law CHP Officer, the Santos might of lost their case, as most people just don’t believe that police officers really do act like that.
Richard “Danny” Page v. City of Tustin , et al., U.S. District Court (Santa Ana) (1992); $450,000.00 for false arrest and unreasonable force.
Norma Cortez v. City of Anaheim; Mr. Steering also obtained $300,000.00 from the
City of Anaheim, for the use of police tactics that placed the plaintiff in a position of danger; a danger that did happen (i.e. non-lethal bystander gunshot wound); Norma Cortez et al. v. City of Anaheim, et al.; United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Farahani v. City of Santa Ana; Mr. Steering obtained a $612,000.00 jury verdict against a Santa Ana Police Department officer for unreasonable force, for a single baton strike to a young man’s head. Farahani v. City of Santa Ana; United States District Court, Central District of California. See also, City to Pay $292,500 to Man Who Says Officer Beat Him : Litigation: Attorneys reach settlement after city’s appeal of a federal jury award of more than $600,000, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1991.
Celli v. County of Orange, et al; U.S. District Court, Central District of California
(Santa Ana)(2009); obtained $200,000.00 for false arrest / unreasonable force.
Chamberlain v. County of Orange et al., U.S. District Court, Central District of
California (Santa Ana)(2009); obtained $600,000.00 for failure to protect pre-trial detainee in Orange County Jail. John Chamberlain was arrested for possession of child pornography. The guards at the Orange County Jail (Theo Lacy Facility) outed Chamberlain told told the white “shotcaller” to beat him. Twenty-five inmates beat Mr. Chamberlain to death. None of the guards were prosecuted.
Torrance v. County of Orange, et al., U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana)(2010);
Sharp v. County of Orange, et al.; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Published Opinion) holding among other things that unlike a search warrant, an arrest warrant generally does not allow the officers executing it to detain others.
Sharp v. City of Garden Grove, Orange County Superior Court (2000). Mr. Steering obtained a $1,110,000.00 jury verdict against Garden Grove Police Department officers, along with a CHP officer and state parole agents, for the warrantless search of the body shop that was owned by the parolee’s father, and where the parolee worked when he wasn’t in prison. The parole department had denied GGPD Narcotics Bureau permission to do a “parole search” of the plaintiff father’s body shop, as they had no authority to do so.
Parole agents can’t do (or authorize others to do) warrantless “parole searches” of places where parolees are employed. Imagine a parolee getting a job as a mechanic at Pep Boys. Could state parole agents and police officers do a parole search of Pep Boys? Of Course Not. State parole knew this, and they told GGPD Narcotics the same. However, GGPD Narcotics decided to use the pretext of a parole search, to do a full blown search of Sharp Auto body.
After several failed parole test drug tests by the son / parolee, his Parole Agent was getting more anxious to violate the son / parolee’s parole. So, the geniuses at the GGPD, the CHP and state parole (both members of OCATT; Orange County Auto-Theft task force.) They stormed into the body shop with SWAT / raid type gear, rifles and pistols blazing, ran-up from behind Mr. Sharp and pointed a shotgun at him. Then the cuffed-him (still at gunpoint) and made him get down onto the cement floor of his shop, with his hands cuffed behind him. One might imagine that this might result in knee injury to a 59 year old man, and one would be right. However, Mr. Sharp treated his own condition with health food supplements (Glucosamine Chondroitin). The constables then ransacked the body shop, with Mr. Sharp still cuffed, lying on the floor of his shop, with the neighboring businesses wondering why their business neighbor, who they always knew as a kind and generous man, was being treated like some despicable sub-human type, and in such a degrading and humiliating manner.
In addition to first claiming the the officers warrantless invasion of the shop and the seizure of Mr. Sharp (something ultimately rejected by the court) the cops also claimed that the search was justified as a warrantless search for stolen vehicle parts pursuant to Cal. Veh. Code § 2805; a real stretch (body shops don’t call in VIN numbers on cars brought in for repair. They are also neither U.S. Customs, nor the police. They’re not buying the car; they’re just fixing it.)
The Orange County Superior Court jury awarded Mr. Sharp $1,010,000.00 (ten thousand dollars of which was for punitive damages against the most culpable parole agent.) They didn’t believe the police; probably because they lied through their teeth, and finally violated someone who was just like one of them; the Orange County jurors (i.e. white, businessman with a trade, married High School sweetheart, enlisted in United States Marines, no criminal record, wife blond and very nice.) The GGPD officer who lead the raid on the body shop is now a Captain at GGPD.
Oliver v. City of Anaheim, U.S. District Court, Santa Ana; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2012; (plaintiff won case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on their unlawful arrest claim; false arrest as matter of law.) Plaintiffs obtained $400,000.00 for four hour false arrest of father (and son), for father telling police that he didn’t know of his son hit a opossum with a shovel (which isn’t a crime anyway),so busted the father for violation of Cal. Penal Code 32 (i.e. “accessory to crime”, for not incriminating his son, for something that isn’t a crime. See,Oliver v. City of Anaheim; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mr. Steering has also had many acquittals in Orange County Superior Court; especially in cases involving false arrests.
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