San Diego

City of San Diego Pays $100,000 to Settle Excessive Force Suit

Mid-City man alleges he was beaten with police batons during a domestic violence call in 2016.

The City of San Diego has paid a man $100,000 to settle an excessive force claim he filed against the San Diego Police Department, according to public documents obtained by NBC 7.

The settlement is the second in recent months over alleged excessive use of force by police officers and claims that officers falsified police reports in order to justify the use of force.

Last month, as reported by NBC 7, the city paid a Carlsbad man $50,000 to end the litigation he filed after a San Diego Police Officer transported him to a psych hospital after he pedaled through a stop sign at Torrey Pines State Park during a fifty-mile bike ride.  

The lawsuit and subsequent settlement centered around a November 2016 domestic violence call that police officers responded to at the home of Melvin Brown II and his fiance. Just after midnight on November 24 Brown and his fiance got into an argument at their apartment in Bankers Hill. Brown, according to the claim, broke a plate in the couple’s kitchen during the argument. The claim states he immediately left the apartment without any further incident.

Brown’s fiance called 911 to report the altercation and inquire about Brown’s whereabouts. The dispatcher, according to the lawsuit, reported it as a disturbing the peace call.

While officers interviewed Brown’s fiance inside the apartment, Brown, who had been sitting inside his car in the parking lot, went to the door to speak to the officers. He knocked on the door.

According to the complaint, Officers George Smith and Radford Pajita drew their metal batons and confronted Brown at the door. As Brown was removing his backpack, the complaint alleges that the officers began beating Brown with their batons.

“Smith then started beating Brown viciously and sadistically with his metal telescoping baton,” reads the complaint. “As Brown was on the ground trying to protect himself, Smith continued to hit him with his metal baton. Brown was hit in the head, arms and legs by Smith. Brown was bleeding from blunt force trauma to his shin and head. San Diego police photographs show large blood stains on the carpet from these wounds.”

Brown received eight staples in his head at a hospital following the altercation.

Brown told police that he never touched his fiance, nor did he throw the plate at her.

Despite his statement, the officers recommended charging Brown with assault with a deadly weapon, for threatening to kill his fiance, and for resisting arrest. In their report, according to the complaint, officers classified the baton strike as “inadvertent.”

Brown spent the following two months in jail, refusing to accept a guilty plea. During his criminal trial the jury found Brown not guilty on all remaining counts.

In March 2017 Brown sued the city and the officers involved for excessive force, false arrest, deliberate falsification of evidence, and malicious prosecution. 

The case was dismissed on May 1 of this year.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the police department wrote “Internal Affairs investigators were notified and met with Melvin Brown II at the hospital. All of the information was forwarded to the City Attorney’s Office. I cannot comment any further about the investigation nor can I comment about the status of the officers.”

The city’s communications department declined to comment for the article.

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