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

Dan Noyes Image
Sunday, February 26, 2023
I-Team looks into why San Rafael police investigation still ongoing
EMBED <>More Videos

A San Rafael Police Department excessive force investigation is still ongoing after seven months. The I-Team looks into why.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- The Marin County DA is facing some tough questions tonight over this incident. San Rafael Police officers had a violent confrontation with a gardener who they found with an open beer in the Canal District. The man suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and a shoulder injury that required surgery.

That was seven months ago, and District Attorney Lori Frugoli still has not decided whether to file criminal charges against the officers involved.

Once again, the DA has refused the I-Team's request to appear on camera for an interview, and the statement she emailed does not explain what's taking so long.

When San Rafael police officers Brandon Nail and Daisy Mazariegos confronted a gardener we call "Mateo" over an open beer, they asked for his ID. Mateo tried to explain he had to stand to retrieve it, and it quickly escalated.

EXCLUSIVE: Gardener seen beaten by San Rafael police in takedown video files claim against city

A gardener and his lawyers have filed a claim against San Rafael after police officers were seen on video violently reacting to him enjoying a beer.

DAISY MAZARIEGOS: "Take out your ID."

MATEO: "I know, I know, I know. I have to take it out but I have to pick it up (stand up) to pick it out."

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

MATEO: "You have to understand --"


MATEO: "Hey, hey, hey."

MORE: SJ nonprofit issues failing grades to city council for decisions on policing; new mayor responds

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

It took District Attorney Lori Frugoli just three business days to charge Mateo with felony resisting and several misdemeanors. She dropped the charges after finally seeing this video. Nearly seven months since the confrontation, Frugoli still hasn't decided whether to charge the officers with excessive force.

The gardener's attorney, Charles Dresow, asks, "Why is it taking so long to make a decision about what to do with those officers when they could make such a quick decision involving a member of the community?"

In his letter to Frugoli, Dresow expresses concern that the DA "has a conflict of interest that has obstructed the prosecution of the officers who abused my client," basically arguing that any action taken against the officers will have repercussions. "Then those prosecutions that are ongoing involving those officers come into question and any past convictions that those officers were involved in, as witnesses or investigating officers come into question."

MORE: Memphis police officer took photos of beaten Tyre Nichols and shared one with others, documents show

Documents show that one of the five officers involved in the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols took and shared pictures of the bloodied victim.

Frugoli again refused our request for an interview, and the statement she emailed today did not address why her review of the case is taking so long.

She writes, "We continue to thoroughly examine the evidence to make a decision on whether criminal charges will be filed ... We will be transparent about the results of this process as soon as a conclusion is reached."

On a different track, the City of San Rafael announced this week that an independent investigation of the incident will be done in one month.

City Attorney Rob Epstein told the city council Tuesday, "The final report will be delivered to the police chief, who will make a decision about what discipline if any, to impose against the involved officers."

But, Epstein says the report will not be made public if the officers are cleared -- only if it finds they used excessive force, if Mazariegos failed to stop Nail from using excessive force, if the officers made a false statement.

MORE: How the George Floyd policing bill would reform law enforcement

"Or in the fourth exception," Epstein adds, "an officer's use of force caused Mateo to suffer great bodily injury."

Medical records provided to the I-Team show Mateo did receive serious injuries. One thing that continues to bother some San Rafael citizens: the officers remain on paid administrative leave. The latest records available show for 2021, Daisy Mazariegos made $96,000 in pay and benefits; Brandon Nail took home almost $192,000.

The other important issue -- whether the officers lied in their reports. They both wrote that Mateo tried to get Nail in a headlock, but the video shows that never happened. We'll stay on top of this.

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

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live