Advertisement

Police Probe Clears Father in Linda Vista Arrest Fight

Share via
Times Staff Writer

San Diego police said Friday that they are dropping assault charges against a 64-year-old man after an internal investigation of a bloody fight Jan. 16 between 11 officers and three members of a Linda Vista family.

Deputy Chief Manuel Guaderrama said that Antonio Pena will not be charged with assaulting an officer but that his sons, Francisco, 32, and Manuel, 29, will be prosecuted for their roles in the violent confrontation. Both men were sent to the hospital with broken noses and bruises.

Francisco Pena was issued a misdemeanor citation for assaulting an officer. Manuel Pena was booked at County Jail and released on misdemeanor charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest.

Advertisement

Guaderrama said Tuesday the police investigation revealed that one officer used excessive force when he arrested Francisco Pena. Guaderrama said the officer faces disciplinary action, which could range from a reprimand to firing. He refused to identify the officer.

Despite the injuries suffered by Antonio Pena, Guaderrama said, internal affairs investigators found no evidence that police used excessive force in arresting him. Antonio Pena’s 14-year-old son, Rogelio, said he saw several officers repeatedly kick his father in the face while the man lay handcuffed on the floor of his garage.

“We don’t deny that he was kicked in the face,” Guaderrama said. “But we determined that it was accidental . . . and occurred as the officers had to step over him.”

Guaderrama also said Manuel Pena was not a victim of excessive force. A Burton Street neighbor who witnessed the fight said she saw an officer lead a handcuffed Manuel Pena to a patrol car and bang his head on the hood.

“The complaint that Manuel’s head was bounced on the car was unfounded,” Guaderrama said. “He was struggling, and in order to get control of him, two officers had to bend him over the hood of the car. They positioned him down on the hood.”

Roberto Martinez, director of the Coalition for Law and Justice, called the police report a “whitewash.” Martinez’s organization has filed a complaint with Chief Bill Kolender.

Advertisement

“I thought that the investigation would be more honest than that,” Martinez said. “But what can you expect when you have police investigating police? I mean, how can that many cops accidentally kick an old man in the face?”

Police said the incident began at 11:30 p.m., when Officer James Gordon followed Francisco Pena and Manuel Pena home and attempted to arrest Manuel Pena on a charge of drunk driving. Police said a fight erupted when the two tried to stop Gordon from making the arrest. Eventually, 10 officers went to the scene to help Gordon.

Advertisement