Marin Co. gardener files federal lawsuit over beating by San Rafael police due to open beer

Dan Noyes Image
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Gardener files federal lawsuit over beating by San Rafael police
Gardener Julio Lopez filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Monday against San Rafael officers, the police department, and the city.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This week marks one year since San Rafael police officers took down a gardener who had been enjoying a beer on a remote street with friends after work. The man suffered several serious injuries. And on Monday, that gardener, Julio Lopez, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, the police department, and the city.

I-Team reporter Dan Noyes was the first to break this story with body camera video from the altercation.

Both of the officers involved in that violent confrontation no longer work for the San Rafael Police Department. The department says the terms of their departure are confidential, so we don't know for sure whether they were fired or left on their own.

The lawsuit against the city of San Rafael, their police department, and former officers Brandon Nail and Daisy Mazariegos was filed Monday in Federal Court, San Francisco Division.

EXCLUSIVE: San Rafael police officers under investigation after bloody takedown

An investigation is underway after questions about an open container of beer turn into a violent takedown by San Rafael police officers.

Dan Noyes: "Why is this a federal case?"

Anthony Label: "Julio's rights were violated in a very violent way. Going back to the founding of our country, and the Bill of Rights, we all have the right against excessive force, unreasonable searches and seizures that comes from the Fourth Amendment."

Label represents Lopez and his wife. Lopez had wrapped a long day of gardening when he stopped for a beer along Windward Way with two relatives with whom he works. The officers arrive, ask for his ID, and when he stands to retrieve it from his front pocket, they take him down.

Daisy Mazariegos: "Sit down, just sit down."

Julio Lopez: "You have to understand-"

Mazariegos: "OK-"

Lopez: "Hey, hey, hey."

Medical records show Lopez suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and a shoulder injury that required surgery. In an exclusive interview in May, Lopez told the I-Team's Dan Noyes, "When I was on the ground, you know, I thought I'm gonna die because of all the blood, you know, it's really scary."

His wife, Yesenia Cruz, said the ordeal has changed Julio: "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."

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

A man allegedly beaten by two police officers in San Rafael that started over beer breaks his silence and also reveals his identity.

The complaint lists more than a dozen causes of action, from Unreasonable Detention and Arrest, Excessive Force, Failure to Properly Train the Officers, Assault, Battery, Negligence. It says, "A reasonable law enforcement officer would not have used aggressive tactics" over something as minor as an open container of beer.

"Maybe they shouldn't have been drinking a beer there," said Label. "But that wasn't conduct that in any way justified the level of violence that these officers inflicted on him."

The attorney tells us Lopez wants his day in court, for a jury to decide the case. Neither Nail nor Mazariegos responded to texts and phone calls for comment. A spokesman for Police Chief David Spiller emailed us that the department would not comment on pending litigation.

The San Rafael city attorney did not respond to my calls for comment. The former officers now face felony charges: Assault by an Officer Under Color of Authority, and False Statements in a Crime Report.

They're scheduled to make a court appearance in next month.

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