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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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County Isn’t Liable for Alleged Police Beating

(CN) - San Bernardino County isn't liable for the actions of a few deputies who allegedly beat a Hispanic man and left him to bleed during their investigation of a possible cock fight, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled.

According to Mauro Galarza's lawsuit, three officers were sent to a barn in San Bernardino County to investigate a potential cock fight. A Hispanic man spotted them coming and alerted the crowd of about 100 to 150 people, who ran from the barn.

As Galarza headed outside, an officer told him to stop and put his hands up. He said he was hit on the head with an unknown object, and someone kept beating him as he went down.

A deputy allegedly sat on him, handcuffed him, hit him in the face and kicked him.

He said he was moved inside the barn, where he began to cough up blood. A woman sitting next to him asked the officers to call an ambulance, but one officer allegedly replied, "Let the motherf--ker bleed. Let the motherf--king wetback choke on his own motherf--king blood the same way all these motherf--king wetbacks let roosters choke on their own blood."

Another officer said, "I should have shot this motherf--king wetback. I had him ready. I f--king had him," according to the complaint.

The officers denied using any force on him.

Galarza sued the county, its sheriff's department and the city of Hesperia, claiming they violated his constitutional rights.

In order to succeed on his claims, U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley said Galarza "would have to show that an official policy permitted or encouraged the constitutional violation at issue."

But the deputy chief of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department reported that deputies are specifically instructed to use "only that degree of force which is objectively reasonable to protect themselves or others to overcome resistance to their lawful authority."

The allegation that a few officers violated this policy does not make the county liable, Whaley ruled.

"Plaintiff attempts to link the racial animus allegedly displayed by one officer to a failure to train, which does not establish ... liability," Whaley wrote. Galarza "failed to show that the municipality was deliberately indifferent to his constitutional rights."

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