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Officer Who Sang '70s Pop Tune to Suspect Is Cleared of Bias

March 14, 1998|From Associated Press

OAKLAND — A police officer has been cleared of bias for detaining a suspected cookie thief who was handcuffed and forced to listen to him sing "Escape," the 1970s pop tune also known as "The Pina Colada Song."

The Citizens Police Review Board heard Officer Anthony Toribio recite a few lines from the song before issuing a ruling.

The board also cleared Toribio's partner of using excessive force in handcuffing Julian Aldarondo of San Leandro.

However, the board said the use of handcuffs was inappropriate in detaining Aldarondo, who says that he left $2.25 on the counter before taking the cookie.

Aldarondo said he was satisfied by the decision. "I was handcuffed for a cookie which I didn't steal," he said. "Just knowing they are going to look at the policy is fine with me."

Aldarondo had just sat down to see "Speed 2" in a theater when he was tapped on the shoulder, handcuffed and led away. Toribio said he sang the tune after Aldarondo told them he was a recording artist.

Aldarondo said Toribio chose the song because it was aimed at Latinos, and that it was intended as a racial slur.

But Toribio, who is from Spain, said he sang the song only to defuse a tense situation.

"I thought if I sang some of the words he might recognize it," Toribio said. "I did not attempt to offend."

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