'I was afraid': Victim speaks exclusively to I-Team after SJ police officer charged with excessive force

Video shows the officer cuffing the woman. Then, he picks her up by the wrist, forcing her arms back, and drags her, scraping her bare skin on the pavement.

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Thursday, October 1, 2020
SJPD officer charged with excessive force, victim speaks to I-Team
A mother of three describes the fear she felt and the injuries she suffered, at the hands of a San Jose police officer, who now faces a criminal charge of excessive force.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A mother of three describes the fear she felt and the injuries she suffered, at the hands of a San Jose police officer, who now faces a criminal charge of excessive force.

"I just knew I was in a situation I couldn't control, that I had no control over," the victim told told ABC7 News.

She gave her first interview to the I-Team's Dan Noyes, and the officer's attorney tells us what the defense will be.

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Guadalupe Marin's contact with Officer Matt Rodriguez began the week before this incident. She had purchased a black Infinity from the website "Offer-up", but the car had a history and Rodriguez was part of the Violent Crime Enforcement Team that pulled her over.

She told the I-Team, "They said that the vehicle had evaded the police officers. So there was a felony warrant for the vehicle. So they wanted to impound it. They knew that I wasn't the driver. But they wanted the vehicle."

Fast forward to July 22. Guadalupe's sister picked her up in a BMW she just bought from a mechanic, but the passenger side door didn't work, so she slid over to let Guadalupe drive to McDonald's.

Marcella Marin-Ramos said, "I told her, 'Do you want to drive or do you want to climb through the window?' So, it'd just be easier for her to get in the car than have to go around."

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Guadalupe drove to the restaurant at North 27th Street and East Santa Clara with her sister -- her niece and nephew in the back. Within seconds of arriving, Officer Rodriguez and his partner rushed at the car, guns drawn.

"Ordered me to get out of the car and get on my knees, so I did," Marin said.

And that's when this video shot by a Door Dash driver picks up. Rodriguez, an 11-year veteran of the San Jose PD, orders Guadalupe to crawl towards him. She tells me she didn't understand because he was already so close. Then, Rodriguez kicked her, leaving a bruise on her stomach.

Dan Noyes: "How long between the time he said, 'I'm going to kick you,' and when he actually kicked you?"

Guadalupe Marin: "Like simultaneously, like at the same time almost."

Dan Noyes: "At the same time. So, there wasn't a warning for you to actually comply before he kicked you."

Guadalupe Marin: "No."

The video shows Officer Rodriguez cuffing Guadalupe. Then, he picks her up by the wrist, forcing her arms back, and drags her, scraping her bare skin on the pavement.

Dan Noyes: "Were you afraid?"

Guadalupe Marin: "I was afraid, I can hear my niece and my nephew screaming, I can hear my sister screaming, I didn't know what's going on? Like, I just know that I was in a situation - then, that's it. I wasn't in a situation that I can control or had no control over."

Guadalupe tells us, Officer Rodriguez kept insisting the car was stolen.

"And so he kept saying 'is this another Offer-Up story? This is your car,' and he kept insisting the car was mine. And that was not my car. I just barely got in that car for the first time."

During the arrest, her seven-year-old nephew telephoned another aunt; you can hear him on a voicemail pleading with officers, "They really bought the car. They really bought the car."

Police later confirmed the car was not stolen. In a statement, the DA's Office says the BMW was wanted for evading police earlier that day with a male driver, and prosecutors charged Officer Rodriguez with misdemeanor Penal Code 149, which is assault under color of authority.

His attorney, Mike Rains, tells us, Rodriguez thought Guadalupe wasn't responding quickly enough and that she may have been reaching for a weapon in the waistband of her shorts.

Mike Rains, Rodriguez' Attorney: "She reaches down toward her waistband. And that caused him a great deal of concern."

Dan Noyes: "Does that justify the kick in your mind?"

Mike Rains, Rodriguez' Attorney: "Yeah, I think it does. ... He wasn't trying to hurt her. But he was trying to give her a distraction that would keep her from reaching for something."

Rains points out that Rodriguez knows how dangerous traffic stops can be. The officer battled for a felon's handgun in November; it ended with his partner killing the suspect.

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Mike Rains said, "Force is never pretty and that kind of thing is never pretty. Even if it's lawful, it looks awful. And that's true here."

Guadalupe Marin has filed a claim against the city and Officer Rodriguez, saying she suffered "severe emotional and mental distress, fear, terror, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of sense of security, dignity and pride."

Her attorney, Sarah Marinho, told the I-Team, "It's a classic case of excessive force. If the arrest was proper to begin with, if the detention was proper, this force was still excessive."

But, the charge is drawing criticism from San Jose Police Officers Association President Paul Kelly. He sent the I-Team this statement:

"Jeff Rosen is a career politician willing to do whatever it takes to jump-start his campaign to become California's attorney general. He's a political chameleon, instead of changing colors he changes positions every time he wets his finger and hoists it up in the air to see which way the political winds of the day are blowing. Today, the winds say he needs to prosecute a cop and so that is what he is doing, it's pathetic.

It's shameful that Jeff Rosen is stepping on the back of a police officer to climb the political ladder to the Attorney General's office. He used to be a prosecutor guided by justice and the law, now he's guided by poll numbers and political ambition."

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia wrote, "These types of investigations are deeply disappointing but are necessary. Every day hundreds of San Jose Officers patrol our city and encounter similarly challenging circumstances and navigate them appropriately. We completed a thorough investigation and sent our findings to the district attorney for review where a filing decision was made."

Officer Rodriguez was allowed to self-surrender to authorities. You can read the entire police report here:

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