Saturday, October 1, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Student Says Campus Police Roughed Him Up

A student filed a federal lawsuit against campus police at California State University, San Jose, claiming officers roughed him up and then yelled at him to “stop bleeding all over” the squad car.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A student filed a federal lawsuit against campus police at California State University, San Jose, claiming officers roughed him up and then yelled at him to “stop bleeding all over” the squad car.

Alen Chen was slammed to the ground face first by San Jose State University police officers, violently handcuffed, repeatedly punched in the face and the body and then had a bag placed over his head in the back of police cruiser after he was asked to leave a concert in April 2015, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Wednesday.

Chen says the actions of the five officers amounted to excessive force and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The incident occurred as Chen and a group of fellow students waited in line for a concert taking place at the university’s event center.

One of Chen’s friends got into an argument with a member of the event’s security staff and his and Chen’s tickets were promptly confiscated. Chen protested, saying he shouldn’t be punished just for being affiliated with someone who may or may not have done something wrong, but was ordered to leave anyway, according to his complaint.

He says he headed toward home, which was in the direction of the end of the entrance line for the concert, and he stopped to chat with some other friends. SJSU police officers Munir Edais and Jonathan Silva then approached him, according to the complaint.

“Sup bro... Didn’t they tell you to go?” Officer Edais asked Chen as he stood talking to friends, according to the complaint.

The two officers then immediately slammed Chen to the ground face first, breaking his teeth – which required emergency dental surgery to repair, Chen says. Although Chen was unconscious, the officers repeatedly yelled at him to stop resisting, handcuffed him violently and then dragged him away from the crowd.

“Defendants were more concerned with their activities and conduct being seen and documented by bystanders,” Chen says in the complaint.

Chen says the officers didn’t identify themselves as police officers before the altercation occurred, and he had no idea what was happening when he came to.

The officers continued their abuse after putting Chen in the back of a police cruiser, Chen says. He was bleeding profusely from his injuries, which infuriated the officers – who yelled at him to stop bleeding and eventually put a bag over his head to prevent the blood from sullying their car, according to the complaint.

Chen was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest among other charges, which were resolved in October 2015.

Captain Alan Cavallo, public information officer for the university police department, said the department will look into the allegations.

“This concerns us greatly,” he said in an email to Courthouse News.

Meanwhile, university spokesman Barry Shiller said the school is also looking into the matter.

"Although we've just become aware of this legal complaint, the allegations appear to vary materially from our understanding of the facts and/or department policies," he said. "We are continuing to review the matter and will respond appropriately in court."

In addition to Silva, Edais and the San Jose State University Police Department, other defendants include Trustees of the California State University, Officer Sean Farrell, “Officer Tassio” and “Officer Buckovic.”

Chen seeks actual, consequential and punitive damages. He is represented by Steven Berki of Bustamante & Gagliasso in San Jose.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.