Man says investigators beat him for no good reason

October 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A San Leandro business owner says two Alameda County sheriff's investigators beat him in front of his wife and children for no good reason.

The detectives wouldn't talk to the ABC7 I-Team; they're under an internal affairs investigation. The business owner accuses them of excessive force and lying about what happened in their official reports. The sheriff says it's the business owner who's not telling the truth.

"And they continued while I was in handcuffs, continued to beat me, just beat me like a dog, it doesn't make any sense," Bal Theater owner Dan Dillman said.

Dillman is still fuming about the beating he says he took last year from two Alameda County sheriff's investigators.

"I want to trust the police, it's been kind of hard, it's been scary," Dillman said.

It happened outside the theater he owns in south San Leandro. It's a family business. During the week, he and his wife fix computers. Their kids help out after school. On the weekends, they show films and hold fundraisers. They hope to help revitalize an area that's seen better times.

"This theater can become the spark of change to start turning things around here," Dillman said.

Dillman and his family have seen the crime first hand. Last fall, an impostor police officer handcuffed a woman and robbed her right in front of the theater. Days later, two workers came to fix their sign. One told the family he had recently been robbed at gunpoint. A few hours later, two men in plain clothes walked into the theater, calling out the robbery victim's name.

Dan Noyes: "Did they ever say they were police to you?"
Gina Dillman, Dan's wife: "They did not."

The men took the sign worker past the counter and into the darkened theater.

"My first thought when they didn't come up to the counter and approach me was that this could be the robbers that robbed him because they just walked into the dark portion of the theater," Gina Dillman said.

"I looked at my mom and said, 'Hey, we don't know these two guys, they could be killing him, they could be robbing him, we have no idea,' I said, 'We need to call dad,'" Dan's son Josh Dillman said.

Dan Dillman rushed back to the theater and confronted the men.

"'Can you please tell me what you're doing here?', and then he goes, 'No, I'm the police.' So, I took a deep breath, 'OK, if you're the police can you please show me your badge, picture ID, business card and your badge number cause there's been people posing as police around here robbing people,'" Dan Dillman said.

Dillman claims the men refused to show any ID or badge. He followed them as they escorted the sign worker outside to a blue sedan.

"So, I came out here with my cellphone," Dillman said.

Dillman says he took pictures to give police so they could catch the men he thought were robbers.

"And I popped a picture of the license plate and then I stepped to the side and popped a picture of the driver getting into the driver side," Dillman said. "I'm popping the picture of the passenger and he throws his hand in front of his face and then he just swings the door open and I start backing up and he's jumping out saying, 'I'm going to show you the full extent of the law.'"

"I ran to the front doors to see what was happening, that's when I saw them beating him up, jumped on top of him, start kneeing him and him getting beat up," Dan's daughter Tianna Dillman said.

"And then I was crying, I was really upset, I'm like, 'What's happening to him, what's happening to him,'" Josh Dillman said.

Josh hit the silent alarm. Tianna called 911.

Tianna Dillman: "Hello, help, help."
Dispatcher: "Help? What's going on?"
Tianna Dillman: "This guy's beating up my dad, two African American guys, Come now."

The men, who turned out to be Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Carroll and Detective Terrance Montigue, were there to show a photo line-up to the sign worker who had been robbed.

In their incident reports, the detectives said Dillman was "interfering with (their) investigation", that he blocked them from leaving the theater and resisted arrest, so they had to strike Dillman "to get him to comply with our demands."

"I know my deputies are telling me the truth," Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern said. "Anybody who refutes that is not being truthful."

They arrested Dillman for "battery upon an officer" and "resist, obstruct, delay of peace officer." Both misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in county jail.

Hospital records show Dillman wound up with a strained neck, a bruised wrist and other scrapes and bruises.

Dillman filed a complaint with the sheriff's department that's led to an internal affairs investigation.

"He's made some type of false claims against my deputies and I want to prove that my deputies did everything they're supposed to do in the course of their normal duties," Ahern said.

Dillman is claiming excessive force and that Carroll and Montigue lied in their incident reports.

The detectives wrote that they fully identified themselves, showing badge and ID cards; asked for and received permission from Gina Dillman to take the robbery victim into the theater; and rolled down their car window and warned Dillman to "stop causing a disturbance."

"There was no, 'Hey, you're interfering, hey, you're under arrest, hey,' there was none of that, it was just a full-on ass whooping," Dan Dillman said.

"Anyone in our agency that's found to be untruthful and lying in an official police report is fired," Ahern said.

At the time of that interview, Ahern hadn't heard the 911 recordings made while the incident was unfolding. They'll play an important role in both the internal affairs investigation and Dan Dillman's criminal defense.

Here, Dillman's wife talks to 911:

Dispatcher: "Are you sure these aren't police officers?"
Gina Dillman: "They're not dressed in police uniforms and they didn't show us any ID."

The second sign worker also called 911 and the dispatcher relays his message to San Leandro police.

CHP 911 to San Leandro PD: "He wanted to know if this was a real policeman, there was someone and I could hear people in the background. I asked him why he didn't think it wasn't a real policeman and the people in the back were screaming."

The detectives themselves can be heard talking to sheriff's dispatch.

Dispatcher: "His family called, wanted to know if you guys are real officers or not."
Detective: "Yeah, well, they knew, he knew, too. That's his excuse. I guess a badge and ID doesn't mean anything anymore."
Dispatcher: "Ah."

Dillman's trial is set for next month, and both sign workers are willing to testify (they just didn't want to appear on camera). That second worker signed a letter saying both detectives "refused" to show identification, that they "began to knee and punch Mr. Dillman while he was on the ground ... And continued to knee him even after (he) was in handcuffs." "Dillman did nothing to provoke the attack."


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