STOCKTON -- Francisco Duarte says he just wanted a celebratory taco from the truck parked near Clay and Hunter streets on Cinco de Mayo last year in Stockton.
“I was walking to my car and all of a sudden, an officer bumps into me and he thought I was part of what they were doing to the other guy, arresting him,” Duarte said. “So the officer grabbed me and threw me to the ground and that's when he started hitting me with a baton.”
The Stockton Police Department arrested Duarte and two others in connection to sideshow activity in the Kmart parking lot. Duarte, who suffered a broken leg from the baton, says he was not part of the sideshow and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His attorney says the police had no probable cause to arrest him.
“The level of violence is appalling. And then they turn around and arrest him, who had done nothing. He was the victim in this case,” attorney Yolanda Huang said.
Duarte and Alejandro Gutierrez, who was also arrested, had their resisting arrest charge dropped last month. On Monday, the two filed a civil tort claim against the city for racial profiling, false arrest, assault and battery and civil rights violations. The claim named seven officers, all who the claim says are white. Duarte and Gutierrez are Mexican.
“I don’t feel like it was right what they did to me. I know there are other people out there who maybe go through situations like this and I don’t feel like it's right, what they did,” Duarte told FOX40.
The Stockton Police Department told FOX40 that they just learned of the lawsuit on Monday and will be looking into the allegations. Since it is pending litigation, the department says they not able to discuss the matter.
The claim also alleges that the officers conspired to turn off their body cameras. The video has not been released.
The city has 30 days to respond. If it doesn’t respond, a civil complaint can be filed.
“All I can say is the video helped to exonerate my client,” Huang said. “So we are hoping to get that gag order released and to be able to share that video with the public.”
For Duarte, who says his broken leg took longer to heal because he says officers made him walk on it, displacing the bone, the past 16 months have been a fight for his innocence.
“It’s been a long road,” Duarte said. “And I hope someone else doesn’t get put in my shoes later on in life.”