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Parolee files claim against El Monte and its police department

Cornelio David Chavez, 35, says he lost much of his eyesight after he was beaten by officers in an altercation June 24.

August 27, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

A 35-year-old parolee has filed a claim against the city of El Monte and its Police Department alleging that he lost much of his eyesight after he was beaten by officers.

Cornelio David Chavez, 35, was involved in a violent altercation June 24 with several El Monte police officers who were trying to arrest him on an outstanding warrant, police said.

Brad Gage, Chavez's attorney, alleged in a claim against the city that Chavez was handcuffed and beaten by officers. A claim is typically a precursor to a lawsuit.

When Chavez's 3-year-old nephew tried to come to his uncle's aid, "one or more officers pulled out either a gun or a Taser gun to point it at the 3-year-old," Gage said. The attorney added that several family members, including Chavez's mother, witnessed portions of the incident.

Chavez suffered broken facial bones and was left 85% blind, Gage said.

Police said they are investigating the allegations.

In a statement, El Monte Police Chief Steve Schuster said officers went to the parolee's address after receiving a tip that he was under the influence of drugs. A background check revealed he had a felony no-bail warrant with pending charges for weapons and assault on an officer.

Schuster said Chavez appeared to be under the influence of drugs and engaged in a "heated physical struggle" with police that resulted in an injury to one officer. He added that Chavez is believed to have been struck in the head when one of the officers felt the suspect reaching for his gun.

The department says that officers obtained immediate medical attention for Chavez, who has been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer

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