I-Team obtains cellphone video at center of Antioch police excessive force lawsuit

ABC7 obtained three minutes of cellphone video showing officers covering the man on the ground while punching and kicking him.

Dan Noyes Image
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
I-Team obtains video at center of APD excessive force lawsuit
ABC7 News I-Team obtains cellphone video at the center of Antioch police excessive force lawsuit amid racist text message scandal.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Antioch police never charged a man and said they just wanted to talk to him. So, why did they pull him to the ground, punch and kick him? That cellphone video obtained by the ABC7 News I-Team is at the center of a federal civil rights lawsuit just filed.

Antioch police are already dealing with a widespread scandal - dozens of officers accused of exchanging racist texts. This man's attorney wonders if the cases are related.

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29-year-old Rebecca Rodriguez is an after-school program teacher. 30-year-old Juan Laspada's a stay-at-home dad for their three children and a part-time construction worker. They were leaving a friend's apartment on a Friday evening in February of last year when an Antioch police officer approached.

Rodriguez told the I-Team, "So he was like, 'Are you guys okay?' I said, 'We're fine.' And then we thought that would be it."

Laspada: "He just kept like insisting to speak to me. And I was like, you know, 'I don't need to speak to you. I'm not on probation. I'm not on parole. I don't have to speak to you.'"

Noyes: "Did he accuse you of anything?"

Laspada: "No, he didn't. He didn't say, no. He didn't say why he was there. He didn't, nothing."

They were just looking for their Uber ride home, but the conversation with the officer escalated, according to Laspada.

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"And I did make a comment. Like, you know, 'you look like you're on steroids.' And I want to go walk away. And when I went to go walk away, he grabbed me, because I had to walk down the stairs go past him, slammed me on the ground," said Laspada.

In the cellphone video, you can hear Rodriguez say, "Why are you punching him?"

Their attorney gave ABC7 three minutes of cellphone video, showing officers covering Laspada on the ground, raining punches down, kicking him, and punching Rodriguez. At one point, after they applied handcuffs, an officer crosses Laspada's ankles and puts his full weight down.

Laspada yells out, "My legs are gonna break. My legs are gonna break. My legs are gonna break, bro."

Laspada told the I-Team's Dan Noyes, "My legs popped, too, that hurt bad, I felt that."

It also hurt Rodriguez to see the father of her children that way. She said, "It was really hard. I didn't know what was gonna happen after that, either when they took me. You know, I was scared for him."

Their federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Antioch and its police officers says they arrested Laspada and Rodriguez, but neither were charged with a crime. Stanley Goff is their attorney.

Goff: "No charges."

Noyes: "So, all that over nothing."

Goff: "Over nothing."

Noyes: "Does a person have to talk to the police?"

Goff: "No, if you're not being detained based on some kind of suspicion that you have engaged in criminal activity, you don't have to speak to the police."

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The lawsuit accuses the officers of excessive force, unlawful detention, false arrest, illegal search, and racial profiling. Goff has not identified the officers yet, but has concerns they may be wrapped up in the racist text scandal rocking the Antioch Police Department. He told the I-Team, "Right now, there's a climate going on in the city of Antioch, in general, in which there are a slew of officers who are engaging in a whole list of forms of misconduct. And this is just another example of that."

Antioch police told us they would not comment on this case, and we have not heard back from the Antioch City Attorney's Office.

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