Man's excessive force claim moves forward in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Sometimes damage claims are settled out of court, but this one is going before a judge, without a jury. It could shape how the police and public interact in the future.

Michael Fujikawa is seeking damages for what he claims was excessive force by San Jose police when he and his brother were stopped just before 2 a.m. at a downtown intersection.

Fujikawa admits he had had three drinks. He was the passenger, but officers in their report said he didn't cooperate. They claimed he blurted the "F" word at them. Fujikawa was tased twice and spent five days in jail for resisting arrest.

"If you mouth off to a police officer, they have the right to essentially beat you up or falsely accuse you of resisting arrest, and that happens over and over, and San Jose has a problem with that," Fujikawa's attorney Michael Reiser said.

Fujikawa, who works as an electronics tester, says he lost pay and suffered distress.

"I'm trying to find closure in this incident because to this day I haven't told my daughters what happened to me because I don't know how to explain to my innocent children that they can't always trust the police," Fujikawa said.

The incident happened in February of 2011, a time when San Jose police were in the news for other Taser incidents. It was also a time of complaints alleging racial profiling.

The community group Silicon Valley Debug hopes Fujikawa suing the city will produce better policing.

"Now the only thing that could build back that trust and cooperation is if there's a signaling from the administration that acknowledges the problem exists, that they don't deny, and they're willing to put the time, effort and resources to address them," Executive Director Raj Jayadev said.

The city attorney's office and San Jose police declined interviews.

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