At least one member of the Ceres City Council last week called on the city to respond to allegations made by a mother who publicly chastised Ceres Police for the arrest of her disabled teenage son.
Councilwoman Linda Ryno said she wants the city to respond to the charges made by Sonya Ruiz at the May 10 council meeting. Ruiz’s charges were picked up by local media and Ryno said she wants the truth to come out.
“Are we going to do some kind of response to the allegations?” asked Ryno. “And I know there is a juvenile involved. We did not mention the child’s name, what happened to him; the mom provided that information … she made the comment there was a body cam. I want to know why when there are, say an officer involved shooting, that body cams can be released so I would hope that this mother would be willing to sign a statement that we could share the bodycam at a future because I’m sure she wants the truth out just like we do. It just upsets me when anybody can make that kind of comments against any of our staff and that we can’t respond to it.”
At the outset of the May 24 council meeting, a third-party individual came down on the police and demanded they be held accountable. The council and city staff did not respond to his comments. Later Ryno did weigh in.
“I can assure you that our officers do not need to be held accountable for any of their actions that happened on that day,” said Chief Collins.
Sonya Ruiz spent about 11 minutes during the “Citizen Comments” section of the May 10 council agenda to complain about how her son was treated when she called police on April 20 to come out and deal with her son. She said the boy had threatened to run away from home because he couldn’t do his homework as they lost their internet service for failing to pay their bill as the result of her being out of work and the dad being disabled. She said her son, publicly identified as a Mae Hensley eighth-grader, was treated unjustly.
“We called the police so that they could try to make him understand that he needed to pay attention to his parents,” Ruiz said through the interpreter.
What exactly led to the arrest has not been disclosed because a juvenile was involved but others alluded to allegations that the minor had allegedly physically assaulted both parents. He was handcuffed and booked into Juvenile Hall where he remained for 10 days before returning to home with an ankle bracelet under house arrest.
Ruiz alleged that officers did not speak to her in Spanish since she does not speak English. She also stated that “more than half the police report is a lie.”
Ryno pushed for a response to be made public “instead of everyone assuming that the allegations were true.”
Ruiz also alleged that “The lady officer said he’s going to go for a couple of hours so he can learn to respect. It might last one or two days but he’ll come back today; and those two hours turned into 10 days and my son remains on house arrest.”
At the end of a meeting that lasted over two hours, Ryno brought up the issue.
“At what point does the city come out and publicly (comment) because how many people were in the room that heard that comment?” asked Ryno. “It wasn’t just one allegation; there were many. And she made it so people could hear it on Zoom. So now it almost makes it sound like whatever her allegations were that it’s true. So does the city not come out and make any kind of comment?”
Collins replied: “No, I anticipate after the case has been adjudicated or if the mother would sign permission – as she did before – to have the video released, then we could do that from a safe standpoint.”
Collins said he and City Manager Tom Westbrook shared the video with advocates with the mom’s permission. Because the case involved a juvenile Chief Collins spoke in generalities.