EXCLUSIVE: Gardener reveals identity, speaks out on clash with San Rafael police over beer

Julio Lopez details how clash with San Rafael police over beer has impacted his life

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Saturday, May 6, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Gardener speaks out on clash with San Rafael PD over beer
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A man allegedly beaten by two police officers in San Rafael that started over beer breaks his silence and also reveals his identity.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- The man we called "Mateo" is speaking out, nine months after the clash and the impacts he suffered from San Rafael police.

He now wants you to know his real name and the complete story, and how it impacted his life. The confrontation started because the gardener and his two employees were drinking beer on the street after work.

He had a good opinion of the police before this, had a thriving business, and now his life has changed.

He also wonders why it has taken so long for San Rafael Police to decide whether to discipline those officers.

Julio Lopez and his wife, Yesenia, have run a successful gardening business in Marin County for 20 years.

In an exclusive interview, Lopez tells the I-Team's Dan Noyes, "In my life, you know, I always try to be really honest with the people, you know ... that's me, you know, honest, and try to do the best, you know, especially for my kids."

On July 27, 2022, after a long day of work with his brother and cousin, they stopped along a remote stretch of San Rafael's Windward Way to drink beer.

Julio said he didn't want to bother the neighbors at his apartment complex:

"Many people's close, you know, they're gonna complain, you know, because sometimes we like to put music."

RELATED: San Rafael police excessive force investigation still ongoing after 7 months; I-Team looks into why

DAN NOYES: "Have fun."

JULIO LOPEZ: "Yeah, have fun, or talk, when we talk loud, you know."

Julio told us he didn't expect to see the police that day, and on the body cam video, he didn't appear all that concerned when Officers Daisy Mazariegos and Brandon Nail arrived.

DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "What're you doing?"

JULIO: "Nothing. (laughs)"

DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "Nothing, there's like a whole bunch of beer over here."

JULIO: "I know." DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "Okay."

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In our interview, Lopez said, "I wasn't worried because I always trust in the police, you know, I feel like we're safe with the police."

But, the exchange grew tense after Mazariegos asked for Julio's ID, and Nail shouted.

BRANDON NAIL: "Hey, sit the f*** down."

JULIO: "Hey, you don't have to talk to me."

DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "Well, I told you to sit down."

Julio explained in Spanish and English that he had to stand to retrieve his wallet from his front pants pocket.

Lopez told the I-Team, "I was trying to tell them, you know, you have to understand that I need to stand up, you know, to get my ID. They just go over me and they attack me, you know, just for that, you know?"

DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "Sit down, just sit down."

JULIO LOPEZ: "You have to understand-"

DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "Okay-"

JULIO: "Hey, hey, hey."

You can see from his body cam that Officer Nail forces Julio to the ground over beer bottles, punches him in the nose, and pushes his face into the rough pavement.

Julio suffered a concussion, a broken nose, and a shoulder injury that required surgery.

"When I was on the ground, you know, I thought I'm gonna die because of all the blood, you know, it was really scary."

They transported Julio to the hospital for treatment and then to jail. When his wife bailed him out at three in the morning, Julio was still coughing up blood.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: San Rafael police officers under investigation after bloody takedown

Yesenia Lopez told the I-Team, "It's very unfair. What happened for him and for us as a family. It's unfair, totally like we were nothing."

In his incident report, Officer Nail wrote Julio "reached his right arm around the back of my neck and started to squeeze in an attempt to put me in a headlock," adding "he began to swing his right hand at my head, striking me several times on the left side and back of my head."

Julio tells us that didn't happen, and it's not visible on the body cam video.

"I can't believe how many lies they put in that report to me, you know, and then saying things that I never did."

Julio's attorney, Anthony Label, told us, "They knew what they had done was wrong. Otherwise, they wouldn't have lied in the reports to try to paint Julio as the aggressor."

Based on the officers' reports, Marin County DA Lori Frugoli charged Julio with obstruction, resisting, battery upon an officer and public intoxication.

Then, she saw the body cam video and dismissed the case. At a meeting Monday night, the city attorney revealed an investigation by an outside consultant is done, and that it's now up to San Rafael Police Chief David Spiller to decide if the officers will be disciplined -- more than nine months after the altercation.

Lopez's attorney said, "It should not take this long to find out and make a determination whether or not the officers were in the right or in the wrong."

Julio has not been able to work much of the past nine months, and his wife has seen a change in him.

Yesenia Lopez told us, "He's not the same. He has no like the same confidence as before. He tried to be the same because he's a man that loves his family."

Julio Lopez added, "I miss my life, you know. I tried to deal with all this, but it's hard, you know, it's not that easy. And I just want to continue living for my kids, you know?"

The San Rafael City Attorney also said this week that the report on what happened will not be made public. But, Julio's lawyer says he'll get it, as part of the lawsuit he'll be filing against the city and its police department.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

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