San Jose pays $350,000 to settle lawsuit against police

SAN JOSE – The San Jose City Council has approved a $350,000 settlement for a girl who was brutally kicked and dragged by a police officer during a automobile stop 4 years ago. The encounter gained notoriety after an eyewitness video went viral on social media.

The payment was approved Tuesday to settle an excessive-force lawsuit filed in federal court by Guadalupe Marin. As the video shows, Marin passively resisted Officer Matthew Rodriguez before he kicked her within the stomach, handcuffed her after which dragged her across a McDonald's parking zone near the corner of East Santa Clara and twenty fourth Streets on July 22, 2020.

Marin and her attorney, Sarah Marinho, declined to comment on the settlement, under which town and San Jose police admitted no wrongdoing. A memo from City Attorney Nora Frimann described the payment as “a negotiated agreement between the parties to avoid the risks associated with litigation,” which is common in such agreements.

This is the second six-figure settlement town has paid in as a few years for Rodriguez's on-duty conduct. He, together with not less than three other officers, was sued by Anthony Cho for excessive use of force. Cho claimed he was hit with batons, punched and kicked during a traffic stop on July 18, 2020 – 4 days before the incident with Marin – where he was suspected of driving a stolen vehicle. His subsequent charge of resisting arrest was dropped, and in March 2023, town agreed to pay him $200,000 to settle his lawsuit.

Rodriguez is currently facing charges of assault under the guise of authority. He is on leave from the police until the criminal case is resolved.

Both the lawsuit and a police report accompanying Rodriguez's criminal criticism show that even before the viral video, a police supervisor had noticed discrepancies between Rodriguez's bodycam footage and his original report that the 39-year-old woman was not cooperating. The report and lawsuit suggest a communication gap when the driving force thought she was complying with the officer's command to get on the bottom by crouching down, while Rodriguez wanted her to get on the bottom and crawl toward him.

A moment later, Rodriguez was heard screaming, “I'm going to kick you in the (expletive) face!”, after which, in response to the prosecution, he “kicked Marin in the stomach with full force until the air went out of her lungs” before dragging her across the sidewalk.

Rodriguez and one other officer were also accused within the indictment of falsely claiming of their police reports that Marin resisted them; the one-minute eyewitness video showed Marin sitting passively next to a silver BMW while Rodriguez stood a couple of feet away.

The second officer, Tyler Moran, was a co-defendant within the lawsuit for allegedly failing to intervene and stop Rodriguez. Moran, who has since left the SJPD, was also a co-defendant in Cho's lawsuit.

Police said officers stopped the BMW since the vehicle had evaded two traffic stops up to now 4 days. However, the criticism states that considered one of the officers on the scene quickly realized that Marin was not the driving force within the previous cases and that Marin's sister, who was a passenger that day, had recently purchased the automobile from a neighborhood mechanic.

The lawsuit also stressed that Marin was clearly “unarmed, as he could see that she was holding nothing in her hands and was wearing form-fitting shorts and a tank top,” and that together with her 5'1″ height and soft voice, she objectively posed no threat to officers in any way.”

Three minor misdemeanor charges brought against Marin arising from her arrest that day were later dropped.

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