LANCASTER – Multiple facial fractures, potential blindness in one eye, head injuries, broken bones in various areas of his body, and a chipped tooth are some of the injuries Marco Chiclana alleges he suffered at the hands of at least four deputies.
Chiclana claims he was excessively beaten and falsely arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies on April 2 in front of Antelope Valley Hospital.
“This was an ordinary citizen, never been arrested by the police, and they just beat the hell out of him,” said Chiclana’s attorney, Bradley Gage. “This is worse than the beating that Rodney King had.”
Chiclana recently filed a civil lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department seeking damages for assault and civil battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest and false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and violation of civil rights.
“My client deserves compensation for his injuries,” said Gage. “He wants justice.”
According to the complaint, on April 2, 2011, Chiclana’s father, Damaso Chiclana, was disoriented after open heart surgery at Antelope Valley Hospital and demanding to leave the hospital against doctor’s wishes.
Chiclana tried to persuade his father to return to the hospital, and sought help from hospital security who told him to call 911, according to the complaint.
When Deputy Jeremy Esswein arrived on the scene he initially shook hands with Chiclana, then things took a turn for the worse, according to the complaint.
The complaint states, for no apparent reason, Esswein asked Chiclana whether he had any outstanding warrants, told him to take his hands out of his pockets, asked him whether he had any weapons in his pocket, and then roughly pushed him up against the car.
When Chiclana asked if he was being arrested, Esswein told him to stop resisting, the complaint alleges.
According to the complaint, Esswein punched Chiclana in the face, then Sgt. Justin Diez arrived and placed Chiclana in a carotid restraint. The complaint alleges numerous deputies then arrived and began beating up Chiclana, repeatedly striking him with their fists, knees, batons, billy clubs and flashlights.
The complaint alleges Deputy Curtis Foster tasered Chiclana multiple times; Deputy Justen Holm repeatedly struck Chiclana with his flashlight; and Deputy J. Epstein repeatedly punched Chiclana.
Calls to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster Station seeking comments for this story were not immediately returned Wednesday. However, sheriff’s spokesman, Steve Whitmore, told KTLA 5 that deputies asked Chiclana to take his hands out of his pockets and Chiclana initially refused to do so.
Whitmore said when Chiclana eventually took his hands from his pocket, he was holding a screwdriver.
“We went to grab him to try to contain the situation and he immediately became verbally combative and then struck our deputy in the jaw,” Whitmore said in a KTLA 5 interview.
Chiclana’s attorney disagrees.
“The Sheriff’s Department was trying to say my client had a screwdriver in his hand until the video tape surfaced showing it would be impossible because it shows him shaking the hands of the deputy and there’s nothing in his hand,” said Gage.
A surveillance video of the incident shows Chiclana shaking hands with a deputy before the altercation. For reasons unclear by the video, the deputy is shown grabbing Chiclana by the neck and then hitting Chiclana, before other deputies join in and take him down to the ground.
However, Whitmore says the Sheriff’s department has additional video and other witnesses that tell the whole story.
Chiclana was arrested after the incident for resisting arrest and assault on a peace officer.
“They’re the typical charges that a person receives when law enforcement beats the hell out of them,” said Gage. “They have to justify their unjustifiable behavior, so they try to claim that a person is resisting so that they can justify beating the person.”
Chiclana is due in court on Jan. 17 on charges that include battery, resisting arrest, and mayhem.
According to Chiclana’s civil lawsuit, deputies also arrested Chiclana’s father, Damaso Chiclana, on April 2, and obtained warrants and then arrested Ibarra De Leon, and Chiclana’s mother, Maria Chiclana.
De Leon and Maria Chiclana were simply at the scene and were not a part of the altercation, the complaint states.
Chiclana’s civil lawsuit was filed Nov. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Chiclana, Ibarra De Leon, and Maria Chiclana are suing the County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies Justin Diez, Jeremy Esswein, Curtis Foster, J. Epstein, and Justen Holm.
Read the entire complaint here.
View video of the altercation between Chiclana and deputies here.
View an update to this story here.