Officials Clear Santa Ana School Cop of Excessive Force in Viral Video; Witnesses Claim Otherwise

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Unnamed officer on top of unnamed kid at Adams Park
Santa Ana School Police Chief Hector Rodriguez finished his investigation into the rough arrest of a 14-year-old at Adams Park that made national headlines earlier this month after an onlooker videotaped the incident. And, surprise, surprise: the top cop thinks his officer didn't do anything wrong.

"Unfortunately we had a subject who was vandalizing property, who assaulted and resisted an officer," Chief Rodriguez told the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education. "Based on a thorough investigation that included reviewing the videotape filmed by a citizen and interviewing of witnesses and the parties involved, I have concluded that the actions taken by the officer in this incident were reasonable."

The full report itself (read it here) calls what happened "controlling force," copspeak for "We didn't kill the guy or break any bones, so shut up, cop-haters."

Elvia Fernandez, who filmed the encounter that day, was taken aback by the results of the investigation. "I'm speechless," she tells the Weekly. "I don't even have words to describe it. It's not fair...I didn't videotape him putting the kid on the ground as I was getting out of my car, but I saw everything."

"Why did the school cop throw the kid on the floor and start to choke him?" she added. "He was already red in the face. If we weren't there, maybe he would have passed out."

Chief Rodriguez's report to the SAUSD Board of Education doesn't reveal the identity of the school cop involved, but the kid told the Weekly that his badge name read "Harris." A Sgt. Brian Harris works for the Santa Ana School Police and heads up the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership program known simply as "GRIP"--an irony if there ever was one given the nature of the restraint used!

As for the "Stop speaking Spanish" remark made by the officer at Adams Park? The report stated an "advancing male" spoke Spanish to the kid on the scene and could've been "planning an attack" against the officer who doesn't speak the habla. Only problem? The only "advancing male" on the scene, as shown by Fernandez's video, was Alex Sanchez...who spoke to the kid entirely in English.

"I didn't speak Spanish to anyone before, during, after, or at all that morning," Sanchez tells the Weekly.

When he gave an interview about the incident to a reporter with the Spanish-language Univisión, Sanchez did so in English, admitting that his command of Spanish is shaky at best. It was Fernandez who told the kid "No te muevas", "Relájate", and "Aquí estamos nosotros" before being admonished.

In fumbling such basic facts, Sanchez called the report "biased" and "incompetent." He pointed to the need for a parallel independent investigation, especially as the one conducted dismissed witness accounts, including his own, that the kid was choked.

With a one sentence write-off, Chief Rodriguez writes, "Witness statements claim the Sergeant was choking the subject. However, the video I reviewed does not support that claim." Man, this investigation makes T-Rack's crew over at the Orange County District Attorney's office look like the Hardy Boys!

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz

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116 comments
909Jeff
909Jeff

And, surprise, surprise: the top cop thinks his officer didn't do anything wrong.

And surprise, surprise: Gabby St. Roman Thinks the criminal tagger gangmember didnt do anything wrong...

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Film the Criminal Cops.


Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership program known simply as "GRIP"--an irony if there ever was one given the nature of the restraint used!


And there was no proof or evidence that the kid was affiliated with a gang or any other organization. Why do they let these thug cops go? They are not protecting the citizens.

jilllee
jilllee

deport his mom so she won't have any more shitty kids. 

elenoreflores
elenoreflores

So glad Tony is retiring soon.  We've had enough of your hypocrisy and your cop ass kissing ways.

mehiconoesbueno
mehiconoesbueno

hey Mexicans, don't buy the hype... only the politicians cater to your dumb ass.. the rest of the citizens hate your guts

Silvia L Rodriguez
Silvia L Rodriguez

They should make a new law Whoever gets caught tagging will have the doors of their house open to whomever wants to vandalize his home and personal belongings. Let's see how much they like tagging after that.

Letisha Flores
Letisha Flores

No way!!! If this stupid punk wants to be tagging the city then he can own up when he gets caught. Where the hell are his parents?

WhiteyAlmighty
WhiteyAlmighty

Kudos to Gabriel san Mamòn for a major non-story. After watching the video, I agree with the outcome.

Nancy Keeler
Nancy Keeler

Yeah and Ramos and Cicinelli got cleared of killing Kelly Thomas.

anonymous
anonymous

Who polices the police? Obviously they are not capable of keeping their own in line.

KELLYWASKILLEDBYYOU
KELLYWASKILLEDBYYOU

Ex Fullerton PD Killer Pig Joe Wolfe was a campus cop before he helped murder Kelly Thomas.

DO NOT LET THESE MONSTERS AROUND YOUR CHILDREN. THEY SHOULD ALWAYS BE TREATED LIKE WILD ANIMALS. DO NOT GET TO CLOSE, DO NOT MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVES. THEY GET SPOOKED EASILY AND ALWAYS ACT VIOLENT.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

There are two types of kids.  Kids who do mischievious things and get caught and are embarrassed and learn a lesson.  And then there are kids who do mischievious things and when they are caught they have no remorse and no fear of authority.  I think the point that I'm trying to make is that it's scary for kids who don't have some sort of fear of discipline or consequences from an adult in an authoritative role.  I just think if he was placed in a headlock and he is a good kid on the inside then it'll help prevent him from becoming a bad adult and if he isn't a good kid he'll never fear any sort of consequence.  The reason I get so fired up is because he is young and he does have hope for the future.  But if he gets caught up with the bad group and he is out vandalizing in an area with very high gang concentration then he is automatically going to be pegged as a member and any crime he commits will quadruple his sentencing.  And I happen to think vandalism, littering and destruction of public property are pretty disgraceful acts.    If you want to buy something and trash it that's his choice, but don't go out ruining everything for everyone else.  I'm coming from more of respect your environment and your neighbors approach.

roman_archer
roman_archer

Wether or not you agree or disagree with the authors stance on this article, I think I can find one piece of common ground everyone can agree on: there was no chance in hell that a formal investigation would turn up any wrong doing on the part of the arresting officer. Remember folks, this is Orange County. Now if you haven't already read Gabriel San Romans excellent cover story on Eddie Quinonez in this weeks Weekly, I highly recommend you do.

compushed
compushed

I believe school police need a lesson in proper playground behavior.

jimgilchrist
jimgilchrist

 It is refreshing to hear that the outcome of this unneessary investigation is positive news for the Santa Ana Police Department.  

It was obvious all along that the officer involved in tackling the juvenile did everything right.  The only wrong thing that happened was the formation of a lynch mob by a rogue band of cop-hating witch hunters.....not too bright on their part.

The visible presence of law enforcement officers (aka peace officers) in our communities is the reason we are a civilized society..  May the force be with them.

Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

jimgilchrist
jimgilchrist

 It is refreshing to hear that the outcome of this unneessary investigation is positive news for the Santa Ana Police Department. 

It was obvious all along that the officer involved in tackling the juvenile did everything right.  The only wrong thing that happened was the formation of a lynch mob by a rogue band of cop-hating witch hunters.....not too bright on their part.

The visible presence of law enforcement officers (aka peace officers) in our communities is the reason we are a civilized society..  May the force be with them.

Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

robincook
robincook

If these criminals in training are not disciplined now, they will live most of their adult life in prison.


I watched the show on channel 31 and I couldn’t believe what the pro crime speaker were saying.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

This "officer" used excessive force on a 14 YEAR OLD BOY. And does anyone seriously believe that this "cop" would have handled a white kid so roughly?

robincook
robincook

@tongue_twister_for_t


Who are you and where is your proof?I guess you didn’t hear that the school cop was vindicated of wrong doing.


gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@KELLYWASKILLEDBYYOU  If kids were taught and obeyed, they wouldn't need campus cops.  Never had campus cops when i was a kid growing up in OC.  

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@compushed  I believe the kid needs a lesson in how to be a productive citizen. If the kid was not tagging and trying to get away from the cop, nothing would have happened.  I know, I know, he's just a kid and tagging is no big deal. Whatever!  His illegal mom brought him (or had him) here, obviously to have a better life.  What a waste.

gabrielsanroman
gabrielsanroman topcommenter

@jimgilchrist GilCrust -- Much like the report, your attentiveness to detail is lacking. This incident didn't involve the Santa Ana Police Department, but the Santa Ana School Police Department, an entirely different entity.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Nope, white kids don't tag!

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Nope, white kids don't do stupid shit like tagging. Get a clue.

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle  I don't see excessive force. How else do you stop a kid trying to get away (the kid admitted he did try to get away)? If he was hitting him, kicking him, etc.  you'd have a point.  He did a wrestling take-down, which was not even violent.  Keep making excuses for these kids.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle  

Yes. I believe he would have handled a White kid in the exact same [legal, proper] way. 



949girl
949girl topcommenter

@gregbpc I'm not anti-immigrant but I agree with your take on it being a waste.  I don't have an issue with people who come here for a better life and are productive, contributing members of their community.  I do have a problem with unproductive, drainers of society that come here and feel it's ok to treat their community like crap.  I commend hard working people who want to make a better life for their family.  I would have had respect for the mom had she not come out sounding like a victim.  She should have genuinely apologized for her son's behavior.  The world isn't a perfect place but it's a shame that for people who shouldn't be here it's the crappy disrespectful ones that people are defending.  I don't think the mom should be deported but she should have to do community service in the parks and rec department, or in some way give back positively in the community she works for.  Would that kid feel proud to see his mother cleaning up from him?  I would hope that it would embarrass him and make him want to do better.    It's really a shame that people ruin their own community.  I'm the type of person that picks up someone else's candy wrapper, not the type who eats a Twix and then throws the wrapper on the ground.  What a disrespectful little punk!

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@dubyadawg  

So it must have been a Latino kid who spray painted those SWASTIKAS on the wall of that massage parlor in Seal Beach a few months back? And I suppose Latino kids are also responsible for all the other swastikas and Nazi garbage I've seen blighting various locations throughout the OC? Give me a break.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@949girl

Because I don't respect "law enforcement" that thinks it's appropriate to tackle a kid for running away when he was caught tagging. He wasn't wanted for assault or murder so I think the reaction of the school cop was excessive.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@gregbpc

I'm not making excuses. Kids do stupid things. We all have. And apparently we have different definitions of "violence"...  

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@gregbpc @fishwithoutbicycle 

And the "boy" started crying.  

If I were to tell a misbehaving 5 year old I'm not going to go up to the counter at McDonalds to trade the Happy Meal toy he doesn't want for something else, the 5 year old will probably start to cry.  

Whoops.  Excessive force! 

Cuff me, videotape me, bitter citizens!   

In these threads, commenters of all ethnic backgrounds have denounced the outrage against a sworn law-enforcement officer doing his job...detaining a law-breaking juvenile who was resisting arrest. 


Ms. Fernandez might not be the only one who has hung out with the Drama Club...Mr. Sanchez, Mr. San Roman, and the law-breaking 14 year old apparently have, too. 

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@roman_archer And also, I don't have a problem with the kid.  I actually feel like him getting scared will do him some good and prevent him from getting in trouble.  That's the perspective I'm coming from.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@roman_archer I've been meaning to read that one, thanks for the reminder!

roman_archer
roman_archer

@949girl Beautifully stated. Let's hope that this "disrespectful little punk" grows up to be the next Eddie Quinonez. Years down the line that would be the perfect ending to this story.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Probably. No, I take that back. Those kids were most likely black.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@gregbpc @fishwithoutbicycle@949girl 
I think if you are going to say someone's actions are wrong then you should be able to provide an appropriate solution.  I don't think that there was one so that's why I don't think the officer did anything wrong.  Sometimes you have to learn your lesson the hard way or in this case, the heavy way.

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @gregbpc  Exactly...it's either just let him them run away, or use the least force possible.  Again, I haven't heard any complaints of injury from the kid, nor do i think it's excessive force.  Like I've said before, the kid has probably had rougher tussles playing with his friends ( like i see kids everyday playing with each other in the neighborhood, and as I did when I was a kid).

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @949girl  Still...you have not given an alternative to "tackling" a kid who is trying to flee....other than a taser, gun, or lasso, there really isn't one.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@949girl

I never said the kid shouldn't be punished for breaking the law...but the situation was handled badly in my opinion. I don't like taggers either...but can't he be scared straight without being tackled? 

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@gregbpc @fishwithoutbicycle@949girl You seem to minimize vandalism as not a big deal and that all kids do dumb stuff.  So would you prefer to live in a neighborhood where kids have no supervision and run amuck or where law enforcement stops them.  Letting kids get away with crimes isn't do them any favors or their community.  This kid will thank the officer one day if him being scared by a cop sets him straight.  Or just use kid gloves with him and let him turn in to the neighborhood gang banger.  Sorry if I'm stereotyping but that's how I see it.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @949girl@gregbpc  

I disagree.  He was caught in the act of committing a crime so he should just be allowed to run away?  I personally don't think so.  It might just be tagging or vandalizing to you, but he wasn't doing it to his own personal property.  Destroying your community is pretty low on the totem pole for me.  He deserves, in my opinion, to be put in his place.  I'm sorry, I do think your actions deserve consequences.  I don't want him living in my neighborhood and ruining the nice things that I have the luxury to use.  The parks are an area that should be safe for the community to come and gather in.  Not to be marked up and destroyed.  I think the little punk deserved more than the headlock personally.


gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @949girl  You still haven't stated what a cop should do to a tagger kid who is trying to get away.  You've said he shouldn't be tackled, but you haven't said what the cop should have done.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@949girl

I didn't say the kid had the right to run away nor should he be "home free" if he did escape. But he was tagging for pete's sake not committing armed robbery...

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @949girl  So just let him run away?  So kids can do petty crimes, and if they see a cop coming they can just run away and be home free? Ok. Got it.  Sounds like a GREAT policy.

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @gregbpc  I think your claim of a "heavy-handed cop" is bogus, until you give an alternative solution.  Not many options; let the kid flee, shoot/taser/lasso him; offer him candy; say pretty please, don't run so I can put the handcuffs on, or somehow grab or wrestle him to prevent him from fleeing. How old are you, Fish?  I'm guessing early 20's maybe?

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@gregbpc

I already admitted I didn't have a solution...it's something for me to think about, okay? I'm still entitled to my opinion about heavy-handed cops. 

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @gregbpc  You don't have a response for the appropriate action the cop should have taken.  You think 30 years ago if a white kid got caught tagging and a cop apprehended him while he was trying to get away by wrestling him down, that there would be as much outrage from the community?  I think not.  I think the overwhelming majority would have supported the officer in trying to eliminate the nuisance.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@gregbpc

I'm not blaming the cop because the boy broke the law and I never said the kid wasn't accountable for his own actions. 

gregbpc
gregbpc topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @roman_archer  Yes we did, but our parents didn't make excuses for our poor behavior and would have been embarrassed if it was blasted all over the internet.  They wouldn't have had a bunch of apologists blaming the cops for our actions.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@roman_archer  

It's ok. It just seems to me like a lot of people here have forgotten they were young and stupid once upon a time. I don't like all this hatin' on the youth...:-(

roman_archer
roman_archer

@fishwithoutbicycle This is one of those rare times when I have to disagree with my dear homegirl. I understand where you're coming from though. You have more compassion and empathy in your pinky finger than most people have in their entire body.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@fishwithoutbicycle @JBinOC 

...and the many commenters, including myself, who watched the video and saw nothing close to out of line.  

And as gregbpc said somewhere else...where are the injuries on this kid?  I mean, other than to his ego? 

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