Dale Gronemeier cites video evidence of police officers’ false statements
A video released Thursday contrasts the statements of Pasadena Police Officers Lerry Esparza and Zachary Lujan about their beating of Christopher Ballew and video evidence of the incident showing that their statements are false. The video was made public in a formal complaint against the officers submitted to interim Police Chief John Perez by Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (“POP!), the Coalitions for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police (“CICOPP”), and civil rights attorney Dale Gronemeier.
Ballew is a young African-American Altadenan who was badly beaten by Esparza and Lujan on November 9, 2017, in what began as a minor traffic stop but escalated into what has been called “Pasadena’s Rodney King moment.” A bystander video surfaced nearly a month later, and the Pasadena PD later released its carcam and bodycam videos of the incident. After months of protests, the PD finally took the officers off patrol and assigned them desk duty. Former Police Chief Phil Sanchez resigned shortly after that decision. Ballew has filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of his civil rights.
The complaint to Perez explains that the video takes “factual statements made by Officers Esparza and Lujan contained either (i) in their police reports submitted the day after the incident or (2) in bodycam videos of officers who captured their statements immediately after the incident. The video contrasts those factual statements with bodycam, carcam, and/or bystander video of the incident graphically showing that their statements are false. These lies by the Officers are not mere technical or minor details but rather substantial and material falsehoods that are designed to excuse their misconduct.”
The video is on the POP! website and can be accessed at the following link: https://youtu.be/BirBgOggOXU (or viewed below). The video was commissioned by POP! and produced by a volunteer filmmaker who has chosen to be anonymous.
The complaint to Chief Perez states: “We understand that the Pasadena PD is in the process of completing the internal review of this incident, that you will then get the review report, and that you will then make a decision on whether to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the Officers. We request that the video submitted herewith be evidence that becomes part of the internal review.
Because we are aware of additional false statements made by the Officers that we have chosen not to include in the video in order to keep it short, we request that the internal review include investigating the multiple other false statements made by Officers Esparza and Lujan besides those documented by our video and including those lies in the internal review.”
In submitting the complaint to Perez on behalf of POP! and CICIOPP, Gronemeier said: “I assume I do not need to tell you of the legal, moral, political, and institutional reasons that officers who make false reports should not remain on the force but rather should receive the maximum discipline of termination of their employment. The Police Department’s reputation, your reputation, and the reputations of the overwhelming number of Pasadena Police Officers who do their work with honesty and without excessive use of force are besmirched by prevaricating officers trying to excuse their use of excessive force. It would be an unforgivable stain on the Department and you if there are no consequences for police who are caught lying”
The video released Thursday provides video evidence sequentially showing the following false statements by Esparza or Lujan:
—Esparza’s statements that Ballew “jumped out of his car,” that Ballew was “nervous and argumentative,” and that he feared Ballew “would flee” which Esparza used as justification for not turning on his body camera and his detention of Ballew. The video shows Ballew casually exiting from his car, leisurely walking for 15 seconds across the driveway, and peacefully submitting to Esparza’s placing his hands on him when he first encountered Esparza.
—Esparza’s and Lujan’s statements that Ballew would not give him his hands. The video shows that Ballew gave the officers his hands and the officers had his hands as they yelled at him to “give us your f—ing hands.”
—Esparza’s assertion that Ballew was attempting to take his baton away from him in order to violently assault the two officers. Video evidence shows that Ballew was probably trying to prevent further baton blows by Esparza, that Ballew only had the baton for a split-second before he dropped it, and that Ballew was never in a position where he could have struck the officers with the baton.
—Esparza’s justification for the baton blows that broke Ballew’s leg that he saw Ballew slapping at Lujan’s face. The video shows that Ballew raised his hand and Lujan swatted it down before Esparza struck Ballew’s feet and broke his bone.
—Lujan’s justification for slamming Ballew’s face into the pavement that he was trying to prevent Ballew from biting or spilling on him. Video evidence shows that Ballew was facing the pavement when Lujan slammed his face into the pavement and that Ballew was not in a position to bite or spit at Lujan.
—Lujan’s justification for the excessive use of force that “Ballew jumped out on us.” The video again shows Ballew casually exiting his car and ambling across the gas station lot.