Statement from Downey Police Chief Rick Esteves regarding July 15 arrest of Miguel Macias:
The videotape captures one view of the circumstances resulting in a suspect’s arrest at 2:50 a.m. on July 15, 2011, in Downey.
In this incident, the officers were dealing with an intoxicated, uncooperative suspect who was believed to have been in a fight and then got in a vehicle, and, while attempting to evade officers, almost struck a patrol car head on. When directed to get down on the ground, he chose to continue toward an officer with his arms outstretched in what was perceived as a threat by the back-up officer approaching from the rear.
With regards to the July 15, 2011 incident in the 8500 block of Fontana Street, the following facts are clear: Responding to a 9-1-1 call about a fight, an officer on the scene saw a truck fitting the description of the suspect’s vehicle stopped in the street in front of a residence. As the suspect drove away, the officer activated his patrol car and overhead lights but the suspect failed to stop. Instead, the suspect steered into a driveway and then backed out like he was going to turn the truck towards the officer’s vehicle. Th suspect pulled the truck forward again and then backed out, driving once agin the original direction with the officer foll0wing the truck with the overhead patrol lights still activated. The officer at this point activate the patrol car siren, however, the suspect still failed to comply and stop the truck.
At the intersection of Fontana Street and Patton Road, the suspect made a U-turn, moving past the first office and driving directlyat the second officer’s vehicle, which forced that officer to reverse his vehicle. When the suspect’s vehicle was boxed in between the two patrol cars, the second officer ordered the suspect to get out of the truck six times before he complied.
As both officers repeatedly (seven times) ordered the suspect to get on the ground, the suspect continued towards the first officer, failing to comply with the officers’ commands. The second officer, observing the suspect from behind, believed that the suspect was going to to assault his partner. That officer grabbed the suspect by the shoulders and took him to the ground with the assistance of the first officer. Officers continued to give the suspect verbal comands to get on the ground. The suspect was physically resisting both officers, using his arms in a push up position and tightening up his arms as the officers tried to handcuff him. After the suspect is handcuffed the second officer is observed grasping the back of the suspect’s neck and telling him to shut up.
The suspect’s actions, speech and appearance led officers to believe that he was driving under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, the circumstances of the arrest did not provide an opportunity for field sobriety tests. At the station, the suspect was belligerent and combative and no breathalyzer test was conducted.
The District Attorneys Office charged the suspect with illegal possession of brass knuckles and interfering with an officer in the performance of his duties. The case was ultimately dismissed by the judge, citing lack of probable cause for the stop. Downey Police Department believes there was an obvious legal basis for the stop of the suspect given the 9-1-1 call idnentifying the driver of the truck as a the suspect in a fight, his erratic driving and his failure to yieled to the activated lights and siren.
The man is now pursuing a legal claim against the city. He is represented by a lawyer who also is suing the city on behalf of the family of Michael Nida, a South Gate man who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in October 2011 – a tragic shooting that involved the same officer seen in the July 15, 2011 videotape, which is now circulating with media. A District Attorney’s investigation into that shooting is continuing.
The conduct of the arresting officers as seen and heard in the videotape resulted in an internal review that concluded the officers’ use of force was reasonable in response to the suspect’s resistance. However, one officer’s language and demeanor, while influence by events immediately preceding the arrest and the suspect’s conduct, is unfortunate and inconsistent with officer’s history of professionalism.
However, these two incidents are completely separate events. An officer’s conduct must be judged on a case-by-case basis and only after considering the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the moment their decisions are being made.