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Mother Testifies Officers Sprayed Her With Mace

January 23, 1991|HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The mother of three men on trial for resisting arrest testified Tuesday that Oxnard police officers involved in a confrontation with guests at a graduation party sprayed her with Mace and later dragged her away when she tried to protect her sons.

The testimony of Dominga Flores in Ventura County Superior Court came in the trial of her three sons and a fourth party guest, all of whom assert that they were the victims of police brutality and have threatened to sue the city.

During the early-morning melee on June 15, police arrested Anthony Flores, 22, and his brothers Alex, 19, and Luis, 24, and another guest, Aurelio Guerrero, 19.

Each charge of resisting arrest carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The four men are among 11 people who have each filed $6-million claims against the city for either physical or emotional harm they say they suffered during the incident. Two of those who filed claims--Anthony and Alex Flores--were treated for injuries at an area hospital.

At the beginning of the confrontation, Dominga Flores, 49, said an officer tried to spray her son Luis with Mace. She said she was sprayed in the face when she tried to get between her son and the officer.

Later, after three officers knocked her son Alex to the ground, Dominga Flores said she hugged her son to keep the officers off of him.

"They dragged me back. I don't know who," Dominga Flores said in Spanish. "I yelled, 'No, no don't hit him!' "

During the fracas, officers hit Anthony and Alex Flores with flashlights or police batons, according to testimony from both sides. Both men were treated at a hospital for gashes on the head.

In later testimony, Luis Flores Sr. said he saw his wife dragged by officers. "I saw my wife being manhandled," he said. "At that time, I told an officer to let go of my wife. She just had surgery on her hand."

Earlier in the trial, which has entered its third week, the prosecution called several police officers to the stand who say they used justifiable force to defend themselves during the melee.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mandee Sanderson said the injuries suffered by the brothers were due to their resisting the officers.

Officer Nelson Latimer, the first officer to take the stand two weeks ago, said the fracas began when he and three other officers went to the Flores house in the 1300 block of South E Street to respond to a complaint about a loud party.

Latimer testified that a brawl involving party guests and about 20 officers began when Anthony Flores confronted him and pushed him against a wall.

The two entered into a shoving match that ended when they fell to the ground in front of the house, the officers said.

In other testimony Tuesday, party guest Luciano Arrambide, 21, said he saw two officers struggle with a party-goer who was trying to photograph the alleged brutality.

He said he did not see what happened to the camera. Defense attorneys, however, have said they believe police destroyed the film to eliminate evidence of the alleged brutality. Officers have testified that they did not see a camera at the party.

Arrambide also testified that Alex and Anthony Flores did not struggle with officers while they were being beaten. "The officers were just swinging at them when they were on the ground," he said.

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