ELK GROVE (CBS13) — The Elk Grove Police Department released video of a June 2019 use-of-force incident and announced that one officer involved was fired and another resigned.
The cameras caught Elk Grove Police Officer Bryan Schmidt kicking a robbery suspect in the head.
The video, which can be viewed in its entirety here (viewer discretion advised), captured by both the officers’ patrol car dashcam and body cameras show their interactions with two men connected to a 911 call in the 9100 block of E. Stockton Boulevard in June 2019.
The video shows officers approaching two men who were exiting a store in the area. Officers ordered both men several times to lay on the ground. A short time later, an officer kicks one of the men in the head after ordering him several times to lay his arms out in front of him. Moments later, two officers handcuff the man’s wrists behind his back.
Elk Grove police said the call was related to one of the men allegedly being involved in an altercation with a store employee. Police said one of the men was arrested for robbery, conspiracy, resisting arrest and violation of probation.
An internal investigation found the suspect, Juan Mendoza, was complying with the officer’s orders at gunpoint to lay down on the ground and show his hands.
Police Chief Timothy Albright said the officer used excessive force that is “unreasonable” and explained the kick was not within department policy.
“As we look at the video, we have to evaluate what was the level of resistance that called for the level of force, and in this case those didn’t balance,” Albright said.
Attorney Mark Merin represents Mendoza and says he was hospitalized with a life-threatening brain injury.
“The guy is defenseless on the ground, to come and just bang him in the head with a boot, I mean that’s just absolutely unjustified,” Merin said. “At the time the surgery was performed, it was done on an emergency basis and he was given a 50-50 chance of survival.”
Elk Grove settled with Mendoza out of court, paying him $100,000. Mendoza was still arrested and is serving time for the robbery. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Officer Schmidt, who had been with the department for four years, was fired and his supervisor, who was facing discipline for not reporting the use of force, resigned.
“That’s not who we are, that’s not who we desire to be, and I think we demonstrate who we are through what we’ve done,” Albright said.
An outside agency is now investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against Officer Schmidt.