27 Apr Latinx Couple Sues Antioch Police Over Alleged Beating, Civil Rights Violation
(Image courtesy of Antioch Police Department via Bay City News)
By Tony Hicks
Bay City News
A Latinx couple is suing Antioch police, saying officers used excessive force and violated their civil rights while arresting them in 2022.
The suit comes as the FBI and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office investigate the Antioch Police Department for alleged civil rights violations. Nearly half of the department — 45 officers — have been identified as participants in chains of racist and homophobic texts that, among other things, made light of brutalizing people of color.
Filed last week in federal court, the suit says plaintiffs Juan Laspada and his fiancée Rebecca Rodriguez were waiting for an Uber outside of a friend’s apartment building on Feb. 25, 2022, when Antioch police pulled up in a police car and asked if they were all right.
The suit says they told officers they were fine and were waiting for an Uber, when officers told Laspada they wanted to speak with him. Laspada allegedly said he didn’t want to talk and tried walking away from officers.
The suit says police didn’t tell Laspada they were detaining or arresting him.
Police then allegedly “grabbed Juan Laspada, threw him to ground, placed him in a prone position on his stomach, and began to punch the Plaintiff several times in his face, body and ear area and issuing knee strikes to the Plaintiff’s body,” the lawsuit alleges.
An officer punched Rodriguez in the face and knocked her to the ground when she pleaded with officers to stop striking Laspada, according to the suit.
Laspada was allegedly handcuffed and left in a prone position on his stomach, with an officer putting his legs “in figure four lock (hobbled his legs) and placed all of his body weight on the Plaintiff’s back area, restricting his ability to breathe and causing him to scream out in pain,” the suit says.
Police then allegedly searched Laspada’s backpack without a warrant or his consent. Rodriguez was allegedly handcuffed and taken to the police station, where she was cited.
The suit says Rodriguez and Laspada were never charged with a crime related to the incident.
A spokesperson for Antioch police declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Laspada was allegedly taken to a hospital, where he was medically evaluated and released from custody. The suit says the beating caused Laspada to suffer severe headaches, bruising to his body, bleeding in his inner ear, and emotional distress.
The couple’s suit says officers didn’t have suspicion based on “any articulable facts” that the couple was engaged in criminal activity and police assaulted Laspada because he exercised his right to discontinue the conversation and walk away from officers.
The suit also alleges the couple was racially profiled.
The suit doesn’t identify the specific officers or ask for specific monetary damages yet. Among other allegations, the suit accuses Antioch police of having a history of racially profiling people of Latinx descent.
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