Claim filed against Pasadena Police Officers Esparza, Lujan and Chief Sanchez
By Terry Miller
The city of Pasadena has been tight-lipped on an incident that has garnered a barrage of media attention media attention worldwide in the past week after an unknown person video -taped an altercation between a motorist and Pasadena Police officers at a local gas station Nov. 9.
The city, did, however, release body worn camera footage late last Friday. The videos and entire incident as well as dash cam video showing the altercation are available for all to see on our website and the city of Pasadena’s site.
In addition to severely beating Chris Ballew, one of the two officers, Larry Esparza, also pulled his service weapon on the suspect with his finger on the trigger after he was already on the ground, handcuffed and severely injured.
On Wednesday morning, a press conference with the victim of the beating, Chris Ballew was held at Attorney John Burton’s office in Pasadena. His mother and father and sister were also in attendance.
A visibly shaken man, Chris Ballew looked down as the attorneys played the tapes from incident with the body worn cameras of both officers.Ballew said he felt like he was been treated as a slave by the officers who repeatedly beat him and told Ballew to “Shut the f*ck up…,” repeatedly as he demanded to speak to a commanding officer.
Ballew said when he was beaten by police, he felt he was treated “like a runaway slave.”
Ballew said he has severe difficulties sleeping and wakes up at 3 a.m., constantly relives the incident. He says he’s afraid every time he now hears a siren.
John Burton, an attorney retained by Ballew’s family, told Pasadena Independent he was stunned by the video; “ I’ve never seen an officer go out of control so quickly, he’s a sick sociopath,” Burton said in a telephone interview Monday morning. Burton poised the question…“Esparza was going to shoot (Chris) …over a tinted window?”
During the press conference Burton outlined the complaint(s) against the city, police dept. and the officers involved. The complaint against the city, Sanchez and the two officers states, in part:
“Mr. Ballew sustained a variety of physical injuries, including but not limited to trauma on the left side of his face, left eye injury, two lacerations to the right shin, and a broken right fibula. Mr. Ballew was falsely arrested and charged with a felonious assault on a police officer, which will show up on his history during any future encounter with law enforcement. Mr. Ballew experienced anguish, pain and suffering, and was emotionally traumatized by the experience. Mr. Ballew incurred various expenses, including bail, medical expenses, and lost income. In the future Mr. Ballew will accrue more losses and expenses, and suffer emotional distress and other general and special damages. Liability: Respondents violated Mr. Ballew’s civil rights under federal and state statutory law, and denied him rights guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions and by state statutes. Respondents battered, defamed, falsely arrested, and falsely imprisoned Mr. Ballew, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed sundry other state-law torts.”
During the press conference, Ballew repeatedly pointed out his innocence and question why he was targeted by the officers who were also out of the city of Pasadena jurisdiction. The arrest and beating took place in Altadena.
Civil Rights Attorney Burton said he believes both officers named in the claim are still on duty and questions Chief Sanchez’s motive(s) by keeping the accused officers on duty. Ballew’s mother said that City Manager, Steve Mermell had promised to contact her regarding the incident but as of Wednesday, he has not been in contact with any family member.
“Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez is a coward, refusing to put these officers on suspension. He doesn’t want to upset the rank & file in the PD,” Burton said.
The Incident resulted in a broken fibula for Ballew and a lot of unanswered questions as to what exactly happened and why it escalated to the point of violence.
The complaint was filed Tuesday by mail and as of yet, the city has not confirmed confirmation of receipt.