A Daly City man has filed a brutality complaint against South San Francisco police stemming from a recent incident on Briarwood Avenue in which police say the man became unruly and began hurting himself.
Mauricio Cuadra, a 27-year-old Daly City resident, said in the early morning of July 8, he was unnecessarily punched and kicked while being handcuffed on public drunkenness charges. Cuadra said police placed him in a canvas straitjacket, and then punched him while simultaneously tightening the device.
Cuadra, who has sought advice from several lawyers, said that while he had been drinking, he wasn’t drunk and is arguing that none of his actions warranted such a reaction.
"I did nothing to provoke them to do what they did to me," Cuadra said. "I thought I was going to die that day."
Police Chief Mark Raffaelli said his department received a call that night for a man (Cuadra) in the street on Briarwood who had apparently been beat up. When officers approached, Cuadra was intoxicated, Raffaelli said, and police questioned him but he didn’t know where he was or what had happened.
Raffaelli said that when police put him into a car, Cuadra began yelling and hitting his head against the car. Officers took him out of the car and called paramedics, who patched Cuadra up and took him to the hospital.
The complaint comes as the department faces a lawsuit from the family of Julio Ayala, alleging that the 26-year-old died from the use of excessive force by police in April 2005. An investigation into that incident by the San Mateo County’s District Attorney’s Office found no cause to file criminal charges against officers.
In the wake of the complaint filed Monday, Raffaelli defended his department, saying that while such complaints are not unheard of, they are still very rare.
"I would say that [the department] does not have a problem," Raffaelli said.
Capt. Mike Massoni of the South San Francisco Police Department said that after the complaint is filed, the chief reviews it and then Massoni assigns a supervisor from inside the department to investigate the incident.
Foster City Police Capt. Mike Martell said such complaints were very rare, even though the causes can range from a police officer applying handcuffs too tightly to incidents such as the one in question.
"Somebody might use the word ‘brutality,’ but that could fit anywhere in that range," Martell said.