San Rafael police under criminal investigation in beating of gardener; attorney says officer lied

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Thursday, September 8, 2022
San Rafael police under criminal investigation in beating of gardener
Hours after a heated City Council meeting, a criminal investigation has been launched into San Rafael officers who beat a gardener with an open beer.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- On July 27, San Rafael police confronted a gardener who had an open beer, and wound up breaking his nose and giving him a concussion. On Wednesday, that man's lawyer filed a formal request for a criminal investigation into those officers and the District Attorney agreed.

Attorney Charles Dresow represents a gardener from the Canal District. Following the incident, he admitted drinking beer with his friends and told police in Spanish and English that he had to stand to get his ID out of his pocket. But that ended with him bleeding badly with a broken nose and a concussion.

Dresow sent a letter on Wednesday to the Marin County District Attorney demanding that officers Brandon Nail and Daisy Mazariegos face a criminal investigation.

"He was treated like he did not matter, you should never treat a human being how he was treated," Dresow told ABC7's I-Team.

RELATED: San Rafael police officers under investigation after bloody takedown

In addition to what Dresow says is clear excessive force, he says Officer Nail lied in his police report, writing that the gardener "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."

"If those words are not true, or cannot be trusted to be true, that really just degrades the foundation of our criminal justice system," Dresow said.

District Attorney Lori Frugoli charged Mateo with felony resisting arrest and three misdemeanors based on those police reports; she dropped the charges after finally seeing the body camera video.

However, she has now agreed to Dresow's demand, announcing a criminal investigation of Nail and Mazariegos.

"It is the obligation of my office to hold people accountable if crimes are committed, and we take that obligation seriously," Frugoli said.

RELATED: Angry reaction at San Rafael council meeting after violent police takedown of gardener with beer

This comes just hours after a heated City Council meeting, standing room only, where people spoke out after seeing themselves and their own experiences in what happened to Mateo.

San Rafael resident Angel Gomez told the meeting, "Even I have been a victim, too, brutally beaten, abused by police officers, handcuffed unjust. I'm not going to stand for this anymore."

Alejandra Godinez said, "We are demanding that Officer Nail gets fired, he should not be on the force at all."

San Rafael's mayor announced an outside, independent investigation of both the officers and their supervisors and the I-Team's Dan Noyes pressed the police chief to make the report public.

Dan Noyes: "Once that report is done, will that be public?"

Chief David Spiller: "There are privacy issues with peace officers bill of rights but we're prepared to release whatever we can within the confines of the law."

While the legal maneuvers play out, Dresow says Mateo is having difficulty dealing with the trauma, not understanding why this happened to him.

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

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