VIDEO: Officer Fired After Kicking Non-Compliant Suspect In Head
Elk Grove, CA – An Elk Grove police officer was fired and his supervisor resigned after the officer kicked an uncooperative robbery suspect in the head while he was placing him under arrest (video below).
The incident began at a Burlington Coat Factory store at approximately 8:43 p.m. on June 5, 2019, after an employee called 911 to report that two robbery suspects had attacked the store’s loss prevention officer, The Sacramento Bee reported.
At least one of the suspects, later identified as 23-year-old probationer Juan Mendoza, became “involved in a physical altercation” with security guards at the department store, Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright confirmed during the video release.
Officers arrived at the scene and immediately encountered Mendoza’s accomplice, police said.
They ordered him to the ground at gunpoint approximately 10 seconds before a shirtless Mendoza emerged from the store.
With their weapons still drawn, the officers ordered Mendoza to get onto the ground.
“As Mr. Mendoza begins to move towards the pavement, Officer [Bryan] Schmidt’s patrol car approaches and stops behind Mr. Mendoza,” the Elk Grove Police Department (EGPD) said in the video release.
Bodycam and dashcam footage captured the altercation that ensued.
“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,” Chief Albright said.
Although Mendoza got down onto the pavement, he refused to comply with the officers’ orders to put his arms out to the side, the video showed.
Instead, the suspect kept his arms pinned close to his body, concealing his hands.
“Hands out man,” Officer Schmidt said as he approached Mendoza from the side. “Hey – this isn’t going to be a good day for you – hands out right now, son!”
“I’m like ‘Hey, show me your hands, show me your hands, it’s going to be a bad day for you,’” Officer Schmidt told another officer after the altercation. “He was just kind of like smiling, doing that smirk, so I wham and I f--king kick him in his head and I tell him to put his hands out and then start kicking his hands away from his sides. Finally got his hands out.”
Officer Schmidt noted that he wasn’t sure if his boot hit the suspect in the head or in the mouth.
Police noted that Mendoza had slurred speech, a bloodied face, and that he vomited after he was taken into custody.
Mendoza was arrested on charges of probation violation, resisting/obstructing arrest, conspiracy, and robbery.
He was initially taken to jail, but was ultimately transported to the hospital for treatment of a head injury, police said.
Chief Albright said that he was not made aware of the use-of-force incident until October of 2019, after Mendoza filed a lawsuit against the department.
He immediately placed Officer Schmidt on administrative leave and launched an internal investigation.
“Following an extensive administrative investigation, I can tell you that both the supervisor and the officer are no longer employed with the Elk Grove Police Department,” Chief Albright said in the video release.
“Whenever we have a use-of-force incident, department policy calls for an internal review, beginning with the supervisor of the officer involved in the force, and culminating with a final review by me, the chief of police,” he added.
In this case, the supervisor failed to report and document the use of force, and thereby violated policy.
“This failure not only did not allow for a thorough review of the force, but exposed the city to unnecessary liability,” Chief Albright said. “It is a fact of this job that the use of force is at times necessary to protect the lives of the public and our officers. We do not take the use of force lightly, and when questions arise, we must investigate and take the appropriate action.”
Chief Albright said that Officer Schmidt’s actions were “not congruent” with the department’s mission and values, and that they do not represent the department as a whole.
Officer Schmidt, a four-year veteran-of-the-force, is appealing his firing, EGPD spokesperson Officer Jason Jimenez told The Sacramento Bee.
The sergeant supervising Officer Schmidt at the time of the incident has resigned, Officer Jimenez added.
An outside agency will determine whether or not Officer Schmidt will face criminal charges in connection with the arrest, KOVR reported.
Mendoza’s attorney, Mark Merin, said that his client’s head injury was life-threatening and required emergency surgery, according to KOVR.
“The guy is defenseless on the ground, to come and just bang him in the head with a boot, I mean that’s just absolutely unjustified,” Merin said of the altercation. “At the time the surgery was performed, it was done on an emergency basis and he was given a 50-50 chance of survival.”
Mendoza is now serving time for unrelated assault and robbery cases, and is expected to make a full recovery, KOVR reported.
The city paid him $100,000 to settle the matter outside of court.
You can watch dashcam and bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with Mendoza in the video below: