News about the city paying out a $312,500 settlement in a 2012 police brutality lawsuit involving Ceres Police Officer Frederico "Freddie" Ortiz has given hope to a defendant who claims he was also abused by the same officer.
To make her lawsuit go away, the city of Ceres agreed last week to pay Modesto resident Yesenia Jimenez after she sued the city of Ceres and Ortiz for allegedly breaking her arm as he was assisting the Sheriff's Department answer an Aug. 10, 2012 loud party call. Ortiz and other Ceres officers responded to the 3400 block of McGee Road east of Modesto to help deputies break up hundreds who gathered at a rural home. Jimenez said that her sassy comment made to Ortiz prompted him to remove her from a group of people, handcuff her and slam her arm into a patrol car. Two days later she underwent surgery to repair three breaks to the bone in her right arm between the elbow and shoulder.
Two medical professionals claim that the breakage was due to severe force inflicted by Ortiz, said her attorney Sanjay Schmidt.
In July Jimenez filed a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations, assault and battery, and false arrest. That lawsuit was dismissed on Friday, April 17 in federal court after the city agreed to have the settlement paid by the Central San Joaquin Valley Risk Management Authority. The city of Ceres admitted no wrongdoing and its lawyer, Cornelius Callahan, claimed that Jimenez's arm was broken before her arrest and booking for suspicion of public intoxication and resisting arrest.
The District Attorney's Office decided after her arrest against prosecuting Jimenez.
Ortiz testified that he used less force than Jimenez claims and said he made the move on Jimenez, then 18, because she was turning her body as she was being placed in the patrol car.
The news report of the settlement caught the attention of the attorneys representing Aric Martin Alias Sr., 37, and his son Aric Alias Jr., 19, both of Modesto, who were arrested by Ortiz during a Dec. 1, 2014 incident in downtown Modesto. Alias was in court last week answering to charges of running a stop sign, delaying an officer, resisting arrest and refusing to sign a summons to appear.
Ortiz was at Crescent Supply at 8th and H streets picking up supplies at around 4 p.m. when the father and son visited taco trucks parked along the railroad tracks. Alias noticed the Ceres officer and sarcastically yelled, "Hey, Ceres is that way!" as he pointed southward. Alias claims that the remark irritated Ortiz and prompted him to tail his 1989 Pontiac 6000 LE and then pull him over for not coming to a complete stop at H Street.
"That's what set him off," said Alias. "That's why he pulled me over. He wanted to show me his authority. It wasn't because I didn't stop at the line; I stopped at the line because there was a cop watching me the whole time."
Alias claims that he and his son were hit and tased during the incident after he questioned why Ortiz stopped him.
In December, Ceres Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jose Berber gave an account of the incident to the Courier, saying Alias refused to show his driver's license, proof of insurance and registration. The son allegedly yelled a barrage of obscenities at Ortiz, said Berber. Aric Martin Alias Sr. allegedly called 911 to report he was being harassed by the Ceres officer. He also refused to sign the citation as a promise to appear in court. Since he refused to sign, Ortiz told Alias Sr. that he was under arrest.
Alias told the Courier last week that he didn't fight arrest and was willing to go to jail because he felt Ortiz was falsely charging him with not stopping.
"It was false arrest. I refused to sign the ticket because he pulled me over for saying ‘Ceres is that way,' not because I didn't stop at the line."
Ortiz indicated that Alias refused to exit his car and that he tried to talk Alias into getting out on his car but refused. Ortiz reportedly reached into the vehicle to grab Alias' left wrist since the driver was being more aggressive. The son allegedly pushed the officer's hand away from his dad, saying "You ain't touching my father!"
According to the police report, Alias Sr. was forced out of the car but refused to place his hands behind his back and aggressively faced him. Ortiz said when he pulled out his Taser Alias complied. Ortiz said, however, that Alias yanked away from him when he was being escorted to the patrol car and that he refused to sit down in the car.
Alias says he willing went into the patrol car and that he was tased when sitting inside of it.
"He said in his police report that I refused to go and that I was struggling," said Alias. "The whole way from my car to his cop car he's trying to throw me to the ground and jerk me and rough me the whole way. He said as I'm getting in the cop car my head came in a forward motion like I was going to head-butt him and that's why he tased me. I'm sitting down in a cop car. My a-- went out and my head went down and I'm sitting down and the man tased me."
He claims that his attorney has a copy of a cell phone video made by Alias Jr. during the incident.
Alias Jr. was charged with delaying an officer and resisting arrest.
"In his report he said I refused to let him handcuff me. I refused to let him put my wrists up behind the back of my head in between my ears but I certainly let him cuff me because I was willing to go to jail, the video clearly shows it."
Alias also charged that Ortiz broke his iPhone by "slamming it on the ground."
The Ceres Police Department is looking into body cameras to provide reliable proof of officers' actions should they be challenged in court.