A lawsuit led to the release of body- and patrol-car videos of the incident.
March 14, 2020, 8:17 PM
7 min read
A California police officer was fired this week after a lawsuit uncovered excessive force during the arrest of a burglary suspect that went unreported.
Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright said during a 15-minute critical incident video that was posted on the department’s YouTube channel that officer Bryan Schmidt and an unidentified supervisor violated policies when they failed to report excessive force used during a June 5, 2019, arrest. Schmidt has been fired, while his sergeant submitted his resignation.
Officers were called to an alleged robbery and assault in progress at a Burlington Coat Factory that ended with the arrest of Juan Mendoza. It wasn’t until Mendoza filed a lawsuit in October 2019 against the department seeking monetary damages for the injuries he sustained during the arrest that Albright learned what happened.
“The supervising officer failed to identify the use of force, failed to report the use of force and failed to complete an investigation in accordance with policy,” Albright said in the video posted Thursday. “This failure not only did not allow a thorough review of the force, but exposed this city to unnecessary liability.”
Mendoza’s civil attorney, Mark Merin, told ABC News on Saturday that during the early stages of litigation, the police camera footage was released.
Albright took action against the officers involved and the city settled the case for $100,000, Merin said.
Dash-camera and body-worn camera videos from Schmidt and another police officer captured the encounter.
Schmidt is seen walking toward Mendoza, who was on ground in the parking lot with his arms adjacent to his body, saying, “Hands out man! Today is not going to be a good day for you, hands out son.”
“What followed was a use of force by an officer that has been determined to be against department policy and not in line with any training provided by our department,” said Albright in a press release.
Less than a minute after Schmidt exited his marked car, he kicked Mendoza in the head, the video showed.
After Mendoza was placed under arrest and into a police car, Schmidt’s body camera apparently showed blood on Mendoza’s mouth.
Afterward, an unidentified police officer spoke to Schmidt about what happened during the arrest and he admitted to the kick.
“He was just like smiling, giving a smirk and bam! I f—– kick him in his head,” Schmidt is heard saying on his body-camera video.
When Mendoza was taken to jail, he vomited and complained about the head injury. Merin said his client was eventually taken to the hospital where a CT scan revealed he had a serious brain injury that gave him a “50/50 chance” of survival.
“First they tried to say something happened in the jail,” Merin told ABC News. “Then they concluded they were liable. … He’s doing much better now.”
The county covered Mendoza’s brain surgery bill, said Merin.
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Mendoza is in custody at Rio Consumnes Correctional Center for an unrelated robbery and assault case, his attorney said. He is ineligible for bail and his next court appearance is April 16, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
“After a thorough internal investigation that focused on policy, procedure, and training, Schmidt and an unidentified supervisor are no longer employed with the Elk Grove Police Department,” Albright said in a press release.
“The actions that night were not congruent with the Elk Grove Police Department’s mission, vision, and values,” added Albright. “Members of the Elk Grove Police Department are dedicated to serving with empathy, integrity, and professionalism.”
Schmidt referred questions to his attorney, who did not return phone calls to ABC News on Saturday.
Public records show that Schmidt worked for the city of Elk Grove since 2015 and was paid $113,596.09 in 2018.
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