Case of Alleged West Sacramento Police Brutality Goes to Court

I received a press release the other day about this West Sacramento case of police brutality. The incident occurred over two years ago, one of the brothers was so badly hurt that they are just now able to even stand trial or testify. They are charged with resisting arrest and and two counts of battery of a police officer. The brothers have filed a civil suit in federal court alleging that they are victims of racial violence and excessive force by the police officers.

The police claim they had grounds for arrest on suspicion of use of a controlled substance. However, according to the Sacramento Bee, “No drugs were found on either man, according to testimony, and no drugs were detected in their systems.”

According to the Sacramento Bee article published on Wednesday:

“Defense attorneys Anthony Palik and Hector Salitrero said Fermin Galvan-Magana, 31, and his brother Ernesto Galvan-Magana, 30, had not been able to come to trial until now because the younger brother suffered debilitating head injuries.

“Ernesto was in a coma 1 1/2 months and he was in the hospital for two months,” Salitrero told the jury in his opening statement.

According to testimony, officers struck Ernesto Galvan-Magana three times with a Taser gun and then several times with their batons.

Salitrero described the officers’ actions as excessive and racially motivated. He said the baton blows caused Ernesto Galvan-Magana’s skull to collapse.

“There were no less than eight strikes to Ernesto’s head, any one of which could have been lethal,” Salitrero said.

Yolo County prosecutors argued the officers’ actions were appropriate to subdue the man, who they said was kicking, punching and out of control.”

The police’s version of event is recounted in the Sacramento Bee article from Wednesday:

“The encounter began about 3:20 a.m., police Detective Donald Schlie testified, after he saw a car parked on a dead-end street behind a middle school near a levee in the Bryte neighborhood.

The area near Riverbank Road and Todhunter Avenue is known for late-night crime, he said, and he radioed for his partner in another car to join him.

Schlie testified that he then saw two men at the bottom of the levee, about 25 feet away.

He said he engaged Ernesto and Fermin Galvan-Magana – who live nearby – in casual conversation, explaining that he was not attempting an arrest.

“I asked them, ‘How is it going?'” Schlie said.

The detective said Ernesto Galvan-Magana was acting as if he was under the influence of a controlled substance – that he was sweaty and was making fast movements. He said he told the two men to raise their hands, first in English then in Spanish.

Ernesto Galvan-Magana failed to comply after several requests, Schlie said.

The detective said he fought with Ernesto Galvan-Magana for about four minutes, trying to subdue him with his Taser and then his baton, striking him in the legs and arms.

Other officers were called to the scene to assist, he said.

Fermin Galvan-Magana, who yelled at the officers to stop, also was struck with a baton and needed medical care, according to testimony.”

Here’s the full press release:

“The trial of Ernesto and Fermin Galvan-Magana – one knocked unconscious and another struck at so many times by West Sacramento Police batons that he suffered multiple fractures of his face and skull – continues here Wednesday in Dept. 4 of Yolo County Superior Court.

Both brothers have alleged excessive force – Ernesto was in a coma for nearly two months – and claim that one arresting officer had tattoos of a “racial nature” on the middle fingers of both his hands. The court has confirmed the presence of tattoos.

Although police admit the brothers were not breaking any laws when stopped in June of 2005, Ernesto is charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of battery of a police officer. Fermin faces only resisting arrest charges, according to the defense.

Evidence provided by defense lawyers note that although West Sacramento police said they had grounds for arrest for suspicion of use of a controlled substance in June of 2005, subsequent investigations revealed defendants had no drugs and medical tests did not show the presence of a controlled substance,

Both defendants have alleged they are victims of racial violence and excessive force by the West Sacramento Police Dept., said Palik, who has also filed a civil suit in federal court alleging injuries caused by the use of excessive force by the same officers.

The officers said they never aimed their baton blows above Ernesto’s shoulders, but police reports note he was struck 30 times with batons causing seven to eight fractures of his skull and face. The prosecution’s own medical expert confirms at least one, and possibly two, skull fractures could only have been caused by baton strikes aimed at Ernesto’s head.

Fermin Galvan was knocked unconscious after, he said, an officer struck him in the head and back. Despite the officer’s testimony he never struck Fermin above the belt, the prosecution’s own expert witness on police tactics testified unequivocally at the preliminary hearing that the elongated bruise on Fermin’s back could only have been caused by a baton strike.”

The Vanguard will be closely watching developments in this case.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Civil Rights

156 comments

  1. This is a very disturbing incident. I have become increasingly concerned about the use of taser weapons by the police. In theory, they are a means to reduce injury, in practice it seems though they are all too willing to use them ad hoc.

    This however is a case of a police officer losing control of his scene. An individual without drugs in his system should not take 7 or 8 baton blows to the head to subdue. Something is amiss here.

  2. This is a very disturbing incident. I have become increasingly concerned about the use of taser weapons by the police. In theory, they are a means to reduce injury, in practice it seems though they are all too willing to use them ad hoc.

    This however is a case of a police officer losing control of his scene. An individual without drugs in his system should not take 7 or 8 baton blows to the head to subdue. Something is amiss here.

  3. This is a very disturbing incident. I have become increasingly concerned about the use of taser weapons by the police. In theory, they are a means to reduce injury, in practice it seems though they are all too willing to use them ad hoc.

    This however is a case of a police officer losing control of his scene. An individual without drugs in his system should not take 7 or 8 baton blows to the head to subdue. Something is amiss here.

  4. This is a very disturbing incident. I have become increasingly concerned about the use of taser weapons by the police. In theory, they are a means to reduce injury, in practice it seems though they are all too willing to use them ad hoc.

    This however is a case of a police officer losing control of his scene. An individual without drugs in his system should not take 7 or 8 baton blows to the head to subdue. Something is amiss here.

  5. “Yolo County prosecutors argued the officers’ actions were appropriate to subdue the man, who they said was kicking, punching and out of control.”

    Arguably the best thing that’s happened to radio comedy in the last 25 years is the invention of the taser. Nothing is funnier than hearing some clown wacked out on crack getting jolted. “Don’t taser me, bro!”

    “Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhh!”

    Although uptight self important folks have no sense of humor about the taser, the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.

  6. “Yolo County prosecutors argued the officers’ actions were appropriate to subdue the man, who they said was kicking, punching and out of control.”

    Arguably the best thing that’s happened to radio comedy in the last 25 years is the invention of the taser. Nothing is funnier than hearing some clown wacked out on crack getting jolted. “Don’t taser me, bro!”

    “Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhh!”

    Although uptight self important folks have no sense of humor about the taser, the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.

  7. “Yolo County prosecutors argued the officers’ actions were appropriate to subdue the man, who they said was kicking, punching and out of control.”

    Arguably the best thing that’s happened to radio comedy in the last 25 years is the invention of the taser. Nothing is funnier than hearing some clown wacked out on crack getting jolted. “Don’t taser me, bro!”

    “Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhh!”

    Although uptight self important folks have no sense of humor about the taser, the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.

  8. “Yolo County prosecutors argued the officers’ actions were appropriate to subdue the man, who they said was kicking, punching and out of control.”

    Arguably the best thing that’s happened to radio comedy in the last 25 years is the invention of the taser. Nothing is funnier than hearing some clown wacked out on crack getting jolted. “Don’t taser me, bro!”

    “Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhh!”

    Although uptight self important folks have no sense of humor about the taser, the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.

  9. Someone who has been tazed would never laugh about its use. The guy was clearly beaten. The guy spent months in a coma

    Where do people like annonymous 9:30 am come from?

    Moderator – please remove this incredibly insensitive comment.

  10. Someone who has been tazed would never laugh about its use. The guy was clearly beaten. The guy spent months in a coma

    Where do people like annonymous 9:30 am come from?

    Moderator – please remove this incredibly insensitive comment.

  11. Someone who has been tazed would never laugh about its use. The guy was clearly beaten. The guy spent months in a coma

    Where do people like annonymous 9:30 am come from?

    Moderator – please remove this incredibly insensitive comment.

  12. Someone who has been tazed would never laugh about its use. The guy was clearly beaten. The guy spent months in a coma

    Where do people like annonymous 9:30 am come from?

    Moderator – please remove this incredibly insensitive comment.

  13. I think the post undermines the poster’s position.

    For instance:

    “the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.”

    Even the Sacramento Bee article made it clear that there was no evidence of drug usage.

    Anyone who can laugh at any person being put into a coma is not a person that most people can empathize with. By their own words they will be indicted.

  14. I think the post undermines the poster’s position.

    For instance:

    “the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.”

    Even the Sacramento Bee article made it clear that there was no evidence of drug usage.

    Anyone who can laugh at any person being put into a coma is not a person that most people can empathize with. By their own words they will be indicted.

  15. I think the post undermines the poster’s position.

    For instance:

    “the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.”

    Even the Sacramento Bee article made it clear that there was no evidence of drug usage.

    Anyone who can laugh at any person being put into a coma is not a person that most people can empathize with. By their own words they will be indicted.

  16. I think the post undermines the poster’s position.

    For instance:

    “the rest of us are laughing our asses off at these cop-attacking druggies getting tased.”

    Even the Sacramento Bee article made it clear that there was no evidence of drug usage.

    Anyone who can laugh at any person being put into a coma is not a person that most people can empathize with. By their own words they will be indicted.

  17. I don’t think the comment should be removed, since it shows the foolishness of some.

    The very reason why we need to have laws or standards for the use of taser weapons is to not cause undue harm to people, and so that when some foolish person (as the poster at 9:30 AM) uses it improperly they can be properly dealt with in the court of law.