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

The police video captured the moment officers took down the gardener, who was allegedly having a beer with his friends

Dan Noyes Image
Saturday, January 28, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Gardener beaten by police files claim against San Rafael
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.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- Friday marks six months since San Rafael police violently reacted to a gardener enjoying a beer with his friends after a long day of work. The ABC7 News I-Team was first to break this story with disturbing video, and now we have word that the gardener and his lawyers have filed a claim against the city of San Rafael -- the first step towards a lawsuit.

The gardener still doesn't want us to use his real name, so we call him Mateo. It turns out, his injuries were more serious than we first thought.

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

The lawyers for Mateo tell the I-Team that the treatment he suffered at the hands of two police officers was so egregious, the city of San Rafael should pay.

Attorney Anthony Label said, "There is no way that's necessary under any circumstance."

On July 27 of last year, the gardener told officers Daisy Mazariegos and Brandon Nail that he and his friends like to have a beer along the stretch of San Rafael's Windward Way after a long day of work. The police asked for his ID, but Mateo explained he had to stand to retrieve it.

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.

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."

Mazariegos: "Sit down, just sit down."

Mateo: "You have to understand..."

Mazariegos: "Okay."

Mateo: "Hey, hey, hey. (sounds of struggle)"

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. We reported Mateo suffered a broken nose and concussion, but his attorney now says it's even worse -- a shoulder injury for which he had surgery last week and PTSD.

"There's been personality changes," said Anthony Label, attorney at 250. "It's affected his marriage, his wife is suffering. He's fearful when he's out in public. He's living very much in a very different life and in a very different way than he was before."

Mateo's claim accuses the officers of assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, excessive force -- and their bosses of failure to properly screen and hire, failure to properly train, supervise and discipline.

A spokesman for Police Chief David Spiller told the I-Team he'd have no comment on the civil claim, that their internal investigation into the officers' conduct is still underway, and that Nail and Mazariegos remain on paid administrative leave, six months later.

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

A large crowd at a San Rafael City Council meeting was there to protest the brutal takedown of a gardener who had an open beer.

Label told the I-Team, "The fact that they haven't been able to come to a conclusion that is pretty obvious to anybody who's seen those videos is very concerning."

Label still can't quite believe the prosecutors filed felony resisting charges against Mateo before even looking at the video. Once that happened, the case was dismissed. Now, District Attorney Lori Frugoli tells us, "The case is still under investigation and review" for possible criminal charges against the officers.

Label said, "As we sit right now, we don't know whether these officers are going to be held accountable, professionally or criminally. So a civil lawsuit is sometimes the last chance somebody has for justice."

There was also no comment from the mayor and city attorney. They have 45 days to respond to the claim before Mateo's lawyers move forward with their lawsuit.

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