Buena Park Police Officers Sued Over Alleged Excessive Force

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Alex Galindo an attorney with the Law firm of Curd Galindo & Smith, LLP (http://www.injurylawyerlongbeach.com) on behalf of his client Brian Lamar Love filed a $1,000,000.00 civil rights violation case against the City of Buena Park and its police officers, R. Plumlee, Thomas Reyes, Lt. Steve Holliday, and Sergio Lepe. The case was filed in Federal court, United States District Court in Santa Ana Case No.: SACV10-1897 DOC.

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Alex Galindo an attorney with the Law firm of Curd Galindo & Smith, LLP (http://www.injurylawyerlongbeach.com ) on behalf of his client Brian Lamar Love filed a $1,000,000.00 civil rights violation case against the City of Buena Park and its police officers, R. Plumlee, Thomas Reyes, Lt. Steve Holliday, and Sergio Lepe. The case was filed in Federal court, United States District Court in Santa Ana Case No.: SACV10-1897 DOC.

The complaint alleges that the Buena Park police officers, R. PLUMLEE #752, T. REYES #741, S. LEPE #775, LT. S. HOLLIDAY violated Mr. Love’s constitutional rights.

The complaint alleges that on November 19, 2010, after a criminal jury trial (State v. Love Superior Court of the County of Orange Case No: 09-NF3467), Brian Lamar Love was found not guilty on five of six counts for resisting arrest and battery on an officer; one count was a hung which was later dismissed. The trial was before Honorable Richard Stanford, Jr., Judge of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Orange.

Mr. Love was originally arrested by Buena Park Police Officers on October 23, 2009. The night before, on October 22, 2009, Brian Lamar Love and his girlfriend (Derica Johnson) attended the Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Berry Farm to celebrate Halloween. They patiently waited for an hour and a half in line for the Ghost Rider until Mr. Love needed to use the restroom. Mr. Love left to use the restroom and Derica Johnson remained in line to save their spot. When Mr. Love returned to the line, the couple was approached by Knott’s Berry Farm’s security who accused both of them of cutting in line.

Mr. Love and his girlfriend knew they did not cut in line and other patrons in line confirmed they had been waiting in line. However, Knott’s Berry Farm security still requested that they be “kicked out of the park” and no refund for the purchase price of the tickets were offered nor were they offered “free passes” to come back another day. Knott’s Berry Farm security summoned the Buena Park Police Department to escort the young couple off the Park premises.

Buena Park Police Officers arrived and spoke with the couple. Sgt Lovchik was able to confirm with other patrons in the Ghostrider Roller Line that the couple did not “line jump”, but informed them that it was out of his hands as Knott’s Berry Farm security still wanted them to be “kicked out” of the park.

Derica Johnson was upset and furious for being kicked out of the park based on false allegations after they had paid good money like everyone else and had waited 1 ½ hours in line. She started to scream and yell at the Police Officers and security that “this is not fair, not right, we didn’t cut in line, we paid good money like everyone else and we waited in line for 1 ½ hours.” Mr. Love was humiliated and embarrassed but he remained calm. Mr. Love told Derica several times to stop yelling and be quiet and he tried to calm her down. The couple was then escorted out of the park. Mr. Love was constantly pushed by Sgt Lovchik and other Officers from behind to guide him on his way. Mr. Love responded: “don’t push me” or “please don’t touch me”. He never got upset at Sgt Lovchik, at any of the Police Officers or Knott’s Berry Farm Security, and he showed them respect by remaining calm, not yelling or screaming, and did not use any profanity. They exited the park, crossed “Grand Avenue” and were approaching the pedestrian tunnel that leads into the parking lot. At that very moment, there were at least eight (8) Buena Park uniform Police Officers walking with and around Mr. Love, including Lt. HOLLIDAY, the Incident Commander. There were two (2) motorcycle officers on Grand Avenue observing, and approximately eight (8) Knott’s Berry Farm security officers walking with the Buena Park Police Officers. Derica had started to walk into the pedestrian tunnel to go to their car. With approximately eleven (11) Police Officers around and eight (8) security officers, Mr. Love turned around to demonstrate that he had “no hard feelings” for Sgt. Lovchik. Mr. Love reached out his right hand to shake hands with Sgt. Lovchik and said “when I came, we showed respect right?” Mr. Love shook Sgt. Lovchik’s hand and gave him a “manly hug” by pulling him in close and giving Sgt. Lovchik two pats on the back with his other (left) hand while at the same time saying “all right peace”. Sgt. Lovchik pushed Mr. Love away and Mr. Love let go and started to walk towards the pedestrian tunnel. Some of the surrounding Police Officers on foot started to laugh about the “manly hug”.

Mr. Love alleges in his federal complaint that OFFICER R. PLUMLEE while on a mounted police horse immediately rode up with his three (3) foot wooden saber in his right hand; he maneuvered his horse to pin Mr. Love against the chain link fence and then struck Mr. Love with the wooden saber at least two times on Mr. Love’s left shoulder and back. Mr. Love alleges that he immediately put his hands over his head to protect himself from the repeated blows of the wooden saber. The complaint further alleges that OFFICER PLUMLEE’s horse lost its footing and fell to the ground. After the horse fell, the complaint goes on to state that other Buena Park officers, including OFFICER T. REYES, allegedly jumped on Mr. Love and tackled Mr. Love from behind down onto the ground with one officer after another repeatedly beating Mr. Love. According to the complaint OFFICER T. REYES had his knee on the back of Mr. Love’s neck, and another officer was applying pressure on his back to keep him pinned face down on the cold and wet ground. The complaint also states that while the assault and battery was going on, OFFICER S. LEPE took out his taser and tased Mr. Love approximately 4 –5 times at intervals of 5 seconds each. The complaint goes on to allege that OFFICER S. LEPE was ordered by OFFICER T. REYES to continue tasing Mr. Love and then OFFICER T. REYES grabbed Mr. Love’s testicles and squeezed them, wherein Mr. Love screamed out “Come on man, stop grabbing my nuts”. After Mr. Love was beaten and severely tased, the police officers handcuffed him and placed him under arrest for Assault on the Peace Officer, Resisting Arrest or Performance of a Peace Officer and Harassing/Hindering a Police Animal.

The criminal trial record shows that the police officers admitted that the entire event was captured on a police audio recording device.

Court records show that Mr. Love contends that the named police officers failed to turn over to the prosecution and Mr. Love's criminal defense team (Richard Wynn, Esq. and Alexis Galindo, Esq.) the fact that they allegedly engaged in the use of excessive force and falsified reports to justify said use of excessive force on October 22, 2009.

Mr. Love, according to the complaint, is seeking damages for assault, battery, outrage, for violations of his civil rights to be free from unreasonable arrest and seizure, and to be free from violations of his right to due process of law.

He also seeks damages from the city for its alleged failure to train, supervise and discipline its officers, for its deliberate indifference to the tortious conduct of its officers and for its ratification of the conduct of T. Reyes, R. Plumlee, S. Lepe and Lt. S. Holliday and other officers who have allegedly used excessive force against members of the public.

The city denies that the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and denies that it somehow negligently trains and supervises its police force.

If your civil rights have been violated call the Law Offices of CURD, GALINDO & SMITH, LLP, 800-300-2300 or email us at agalindo(at)cgsattys(dot)com.

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Alexis Galindo
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