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MONTEBELLO : Student Claims Police Used Excessive Force

October 06, 1994|PSYCHE PASCUAL

A 26-year-old college student has accused Montebello police officers of using excessive force--dousing him with pepper spray and clubbing him--during an investigation of a vandalized car.

Javier Diaz, a student at East Los Angeles Community College, made the allegations in a federal suit filed last week, one year after the incident. He said he still suffers pains in his legs.

The suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages for false arrest and injuries, names as defendants the city, Police Chief Steve Simonian and Officers John Montelongo, Ricardo Rojas, Brad Keller and Douglas Gorman. It also names three security guards who called police.

Diaz said he was at the Quiet Cannon restaurant and nightclub on Sept. 26, 1993, to celebrate a friend's birthday when police detained him for questioning about a broken car window.

Although Diaz denied damaging the car, the officers became verbally abusive, said his attorney, Robert Mann. The officers then threw Diaz against a police car, sprayed him and hit him 15 times with their batons, Mann said.

After his arrest, Diaz was taken to County-USC Medical Center, where he was treated for bruises on his arms and legs. He was released and then jailed for three days on suspicion of vandalism, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer.

City officials said the officers' actions were justified. According to a police report of the incident, Diaz was verbally abusive and attacked the officers.

Police Lt. Bill Scholl said Montelongo hit Diaz with his baton after Diaz struck the officer in the face two times and kicked Rojas in the knee, according to the report.

Diaz was charged with battery but a judge declared a mistrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict.

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