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A Case For Struggle – Real Revolutionary Victimized in San José

by El Voz (stopepperspray [at]
A Case For Struggle – Revolutionary Victimized in San José: Raul "Curly" Estremera Veteran Bay Area Activist And Former BLA Political Prisoner Attacked By Out Of Control Police
Authors Note: This is a comprehensive narrative compiled and provided by the Black Berets for Justice & Community Defense, we provided this extensive text and its supplemental information so that you as a reader or activist also can understand your own rights, how they can be violated and how they can be fought for. Please redistribute, re-edit far and wide, and contribute your words and comments, they are much welcomed, no matter what they have to say. See and download the flier for the rally and protest this Monday the 27th, below.

A Case For Struggle – Revolutionary Victimized in San José: Veteran Bay Area Activist And Former BLA Political Prisoner Attacked By Out Of Control Police

Curly & The Story of the South Bay
By El Voz

On “Super Tuesday” November 7th, 2006 while the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area was most likely glued to the television watching election results, long-time activist Raul “Curly” Estremera (whose Muslim name is Tariq Al-Amin) was struggling for his life in Santa Clara County Jail. Raul, better known by his nickname “Curly” was pepper-sprayed by an off duty Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff at Valley Health Center (which is a branch of Valley Medical Center Hospital) on 500 Tully Road in Eastside San José while he was trying to pick up his medicine, and was then later attacked by two San Jose Police Department officers while in custody, that same night. Estremera, who suffers from a rare debilitating disease tentatively diagnosed as Ménière’s Syndrome [] and other ailments such as high blood pressure has been semi-retired from fulltime “activism” since 2004 due to health problems, and requires medication to help regulate his condition. Traditionally Curly one of the strongest advocates around the rights and issues of San José’s Black and Latino communities, though originally from New York, he has been effectively sidelined by his health.

Ménière’s disease usually appears between the ages of 40 and 50 years and is a chronic and aggressive inner ear syndrome suspected to be the result of such predisposing factors as head trauma, middle ear infections (chronic or otherwise), autonomic nervous system dysfunction, toxicity (poisoning) and is marked by severe attacks of vertigo (extreme dizziness), progressive deafness (sensorineural hearing loss), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and a sensation of fullness in the ears. Those with Ménière’s may suffer acute attacks of vertigo that can cause nausea, vomiting, sweating, and a loss of balance. Such attacks can be as episodic as only occurring in isolated incidents several times a year, as periodic as being a nearly day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute affliction or go into extended remissions that can last several years, a few weeks, or a few months. The progression of Ménière’s disease destroys the ability for the ear to regulate fluid production within it, thus destroying or damaging the sensory cells, and thus the transmission ability to the brain of the person affected. Its cause is unknown, and there is no known prevention or medicinal cure for the disease. If Ménière’s disease is allowed to persist it causes a debilitating vertigo and surgery may become necessary, the surgery consists of the physical destruction and removal of the workings of the inner ear, which relieves the symptoms but causes irreversible hearing loss. Curly suffers from the most debilitating form of the disease. (Adapted from Diseases of the Human Body, pg. 348-49).

Prior to his decline in health, Curly had spent the better part of 40 years fully committed to the cause of justice, a brief synopsis of which includes his involvement with:

• Comité Apoyo Pro APPO de San Jose (CAP-APPO), San Jose (Active Member) – Oaxaca Support Committee for Assemblo Popular de Pueblo de Oaxaca (APPO) and the people of Oaxaca. cap_appo [at]

• Committee to Free the Five, San Francisco (Active Member) – Organized to free the five Cuban political prisoners, now inside of U.S. prisons.

• Comité en Solidaridad con Cuba y Latino America, San Jose (Coordinator) – Organized in order to do popular outreach and awareness work around the progressive strides made by Cuba, and other Latin American nations.

• Bay Area Cuban Alliance Network, Redwood City (Former Member) – Organized to expose the medical, political, and social achievements of the Cuban government, and works toward the restoration of diplomatic relations between the peoples of Cuba and the United States.

• No More…/No Mas…, San Jose (Active Elders Advisory Council Member) – Organized to facilitate community aid, survival and awareness programs.

• Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland (Active Member) – Straight support of Political Prisoner and Black Revolutionary Mumia Abu-Jamal.

• South Bay Mobilization Against the War, San Jose (Former Member) – Local anti-war organization, working to stop the war in Iraq.

• South Bay Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, San Jose (Chairperson) – Local San Jose based mobilization to raise funds, promote awareness and disseminate information on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

• Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, San Francisco (Former Steering Committee Member) – Coalition assembled to disseminate information on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

• Pueblo Unido, San Jose (Chairperson) – Organized to stop the installation of the racist Captain Fallon statue in downtown San Jose.

• Peoples United Front, Oakland (Founding Member) – A Council of Elders which included: Richard Aoki (Former Black Panther Party/Third World Liberation Front), Gerald Saunders (Former Black Panther Party, Founder Berkeley CopWatch), Yuri Kochiyama (Former OAAU – Organization of Afro-American Unity), Russell “Wanbli Watakbe” Redner (American Indian Movement, Former Director Leonard Peltier Defense Committee), and Shaka At-Thinnin (Chairman Black August Committee) which worked on justice oriented issues as well as the release of political prisoners.

• Western Region United Front to Free All Political Prisoners, Oakland (Coordinator) – Organized to build a Western region political prisoner conference “The Week Of Dragons” including: Puerto Rican Political Prisoners – Luis Rosa, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Black Liberation Army Political Prisoners – Ashanti Alston, Thomas “Blood” McCreary, Tarique Haskins, Mark Holder, Dhoruba bin Wahad (Richard Moore), etc.

• Task Force to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, San Jose (Member) – Subgroup to the Peoples United Front.

• Carson City 10 Defense Committee, Carson City/San Jose (Chairperson) – Subgroup of the People United Front organized by Russell “Wanbli Watakbe” Redner and the American Indian Movement to aid in the defense of Rocky Boy Jr. and his nine codefendants.

• Western Region Puerto Rican Council, San Jose (Executive Director) – Coalition of organization from west coast of the U.S. to Hawaii, dedicated to the cultural development of Puerto Rican affairs.

• Citizens Tribunal, San Jose (Coordinator) – Local organization committed the pursuit of Police Oversight in the areas of San Jose and Santa Clara County.

• October 22nd Coalition Against Police Brutality and the Criminalization of a Generation, Oakland (Coordinator) – Is a national coalition of organizations that organize around Police Brutality, and Officer involved shootings of community members and issuing its “Stolen Lives” publication annually.

• “Chip” Fitzgerald Defense Committee – Organized by former Black Panther Professor Mel Mason, in defense of his close friend and political prisoner Chip Fitzgerald.

• United For Justice, Oakland (Former Member) – Political Prisoner Organization

• NAACP, Lompoc Chapter (Vice-Chairperson) – National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, within the California penal system.

• Mexican American Self-Help Organization (M.A.S.H.), Lompoc (President) – Organized by prisoners to defend their human rights.

• Young Lords Organization, Brooklyn Chapter, NY (Member) – Militant Puerto Rican liberation and independence organization, affiliated with the Black Panther Party.

All I Wanted Was A…

Recently Curly has been more reserved in his involvement in justice work, acting primarily as a counselor and advisor to a variety of activist youth groups, and more immediately offering what skills, contacts or experience he can to the causes of Immigrant Rights during April and May ( and, and Police Brutality & Misconduct with such cases the De Anza Eight (, the Eastside Six (cases still pending -, the Cisco Six (case still pending - and most currently supporting the struggle in Oaxaca ( - more information about the activities of CAP-APPO can be found on the South Bay Spanish news media sites such as:,, and or the television media on Univision 14 ( and Telemundo 48 (

A Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff (who never identified himself as such, which he is required to do by law), moonlighting as a security guard at the Clinic at which the poor and predominantly people of color communities of Eastside San José get their limited medical attention and medication, attacked Curly from behind with multiple volleys of pepper-spray. Following the surprise attack, Curly defended himself and then voluntarily left the premises in order to protect himself from any further assaults or serious harm. According to the policy section of the “Use of Force” General Order: #12.00 by Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith:

“Deputies and Sheriff's Correctional Officers shall use only force which is reasonable, given the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time of the event, to bring an incident under control. Emergency medical attention shall be provided to any person who sustains any injury requiring medical attention or loss of consciousness, resulting from a deputy's use of force. All sections of this policy apply to off-duty conduct involving the use of force when such conduct occurs in the course and scope of employment.”

The Sheriff’s Order further elaborates on what constitutes “reasonable force” saying:

“Deputies and Sheriff's Correctional Officers are authorized to use only that degree of force, which is reasonable under the circumstances to protect themselves or others, or to overcome resistance to their lawful authority. Deputies and Sheriff's Correctional Officers may use force in the performance of their duties in the following circumstances: to prevent the commission of a public offense; to prevent a person from injuring himself or others; to make a lawful arrest or detention of persons resisting or attempting to evade that arrest or detention; or in self-defense or the defense of another person.”

This however, was not the case. And was out of sequence with A) his duty as a “security guard” and B) the required procedures as outlined by the Santa Clara County Sheriffs Department, particularly in relationship to the “escalation of force” which this; “Use Of Force” Order #12.00 adapted excerpt states as being:

“When use of force is necessary and appropriate, deputies shall, when reasonably possible, use an escalating scale of force and will not progress to a more forceful measure unless a lower level of force is inadequate or inappropriate. Nothing in this Order shall preclude deputies from skipping steps when justified. The escalation of force shall occur as follows:

Physical Presence – Physical presence means the presence of a deputy, in uniform, with badge and safety equipment, or if in civilian clothes, with badge and identification.

Verbal Commands – Verbal commands mean to make a spoken request or command in order to obtain compliance or control or to give direction.

Hands-on restraint – Hands-on restraint means physically touching a person to obtain response or compliance.

Chemical Agents; control holds (excluding carotid holds) – Chemical agents may be used only under the following circumstances: when necessary to overcome resistance to a lawful arrest; when necessary to protect a deputy or another person from an assault; and when necessary to defend or protect a deputy or another against vicious animals. The use of chemical agents on non-violent protesters, or non-resisting prisoners, to assist in separating them or making an arrest is not authorized.

Chemical agents shall not be used against handcuffed suspects or those restrained by the hobble unless the suspect continues to present a serious threat to the safety of the deputy or others or still presents a serious and significant threat to property.

Deputies and Sheriff's Correctional Officers using chemical agents must evaluate the medical condition of the sprayed suspect. If a chemical agent was used, after initial exposure, the subject should be checked and interviewed for discomfort from the chemical agent as soon as possible and also not less than 30 minutes after the exposure nor more than one hour from the time the agent was used. If O.C. (Oleoresin Capsicum) agent was used, decontamination may need to be continued for approximately 45 minutes after exposure to the agent. If symptoms persist from the use of O.C. more than 45 minutes after it was used, the deputy/Sheriff's Correctional Officer should take the subject to a medical facility for examination and treatment. A medical incarceration clearance at the jail shall be obtained for any suspect in custody who is sprayed with a chemical agent.

A person who has been sprayed with chemical agent shall not be transported face down or on his or her stomach. The deputy shall closely monitor the subject for any visible signs of distress, which appears to require medical evaluation and/or treatment.

Should the subject become ill after an exposure to the chemical agent, he or she should be taken to a medical facility for examination and treatment. If the sprayed suspect loses consciousness or has difficulty breathing, the deputy shall summon an ambulance immediately on a Code 3 basis.

Oleoresin capsicum - O.C.
All sworn personnel in the Office of the Sheriff, after satisfactory completion of a training course approved by P.O.S.T., are authorized to carry and use O.C. All sworn personnel who have completed the certified course shall carry, while on duty in uniform, O.C. in the approved holder.

O.C. dispensers should be discharged directly into the subject's face at a distance greater than three feet. O.C. may be ineffective on persons suffering from certain mental disorders or who are under the influence of certain drugs.

As soon as practical, the person exposed to O.C. should be given fresh air. Whenever possible, cool water should be used to rinse the contaminated area. If the exposed person is wearing contact lenses, he or she should be taken to a medical facility to have the lenses removed; however, if the person exposed to O.C. is not in custody, the deputy shall obtain consent prior to transporting him or her to a medical facility.”

For more information on the topic of the “Use of Force” we recommend the recent San Francisco Chronicle Expose on the subject: and the KQED Public Television and Radio Broadcast Forum at: O.C. (Pepper-Spray) features a 10% solution of oleoresin capsicum, carried in a solution principally composed of water, antifreeze, and denatured alcohol. Though it does say, that a deputy may ‘skip steps’ the off-duty deputy in question failed to identify himself as such, and furthermore with failing to identify himself at all broke procedure completely, and employed a chemical agent in an illegal and recklessly offensive way, in the heart of a hospital with innumerable bystanders within close proximity, including children, the sick and the elderly against a patient of that very hospital and as shown; employing a chemical agent however has its very own specific requirements attached to it. However, even legal precedent placed Curly firmly in the right as affirmed by the following two rulings:

Officers Task: Pepper Spray
Martinez v. New Mexico Dept. Of Public Safety, 47 Fed. Appx. 513 (10th Cir. 2002)
It is unreasonable to use pepper-spray as a pain compliance technique where the suspect is restrained in handcuffs and is only being verbally resistant.
• Pain Compliance techniques can be immediately stopped when the suspect responds with compliance. The effects of pepper-spray cannot be immediately stopped upon compliance.
• See also, Vineyard v. Wilson, 311 F.3d. 1340 (11th Cir. 2002) for a similar conclusion.

For a more in depth understanding of the uses of and effects of pepper-spray we recommend: “Torture By Any Other Name” by Nicholas Wilson, an in depth article on the use and abuse of pepper spray against protestors and “Report of the Pepper Spray Committee Civilian Complaint Review Board” by New York Civilian Complaint Review Board, October 2000, both of which can be found online. Regardless, this does seem to kind of fly in the face of the “Core Values” of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which includes the following:

- Our principal mission is protection of life and property.
- We strive to maintain the highest level of public trust.
- We demand the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
- We value community partnerships.
- We treat each other, and the community, with dignity and respect.
- We recognize diversity as strength.
- We value personal and professional growth through education and training.

Taken from:

In The Brutal Hands Of The SJPD Or The SCC Sheriff’s

Escaping this blatant act of law enforcement terrorism, Curly left the clinic only to be greeted outside by the San Jose Police Department, in the form of several squad cars and a lead officer asking: “[Do] you hate cops?” An odd question for some, this question is all too common for Curly who has been the constant target of harassment by both local and federal police most of his life. Curly, a former political prisoner has long been stigmatized by the appellation of “terrorist,” “anti-cop” or “cop killer” based on an ever-constant accusation of his being involved with the revolutionary organization known as the Black Liberation Army ( Following this, only the most recent of incidents with the police, Curly a father, grandfather and great-grandfather was taken into custody, after the “off duty” and “unidentified” Deputy Sheriff accused Curly himself of having assaulted him (the Deputy Sheriff), and that he was pressing charges against Curly for Assaulting a Police Officer with a deadly weapon. Curly submitted without resistance to being taken into custody by the SJPD.

While in custody, handcuffed and already severely ill, Curly a man asked by his doctor to be at the clinic (in which he had twice before passed out while awaiting service, needing emergency attention) to pick-up his medication, was victimized yet again by the SJPD during transport, when the squad car stopped in route to the County Holding facility under a bridge overpass, near 7th Street and Highway 280. Curly, who is no stranger to police brutality, nor San Jose grew suspicious of this oddity in procedure, when suddenly another police car appeared and he was asked to “step out of the car!”

Officers Task: Use of Force
Brother v. Klevenhagen, 28 F.3d 452 (1994).
Once the arrest is complete, i.e. handcuffs on, some courts have followed a different standard in subsequent uses of force based upon a 14th Amendment Due Process standard.
• Where a court adopts this standard, officer conduct is judged by a different standard that is more protective of officer conduct.
• Officer’s use of force must have inflicted unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering and must not have been applied in a good faith effort to maintain order or restore discipline.
• A violation does occur where the officer acted maliciously or sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.

Fearing for his life, as he was brutally pulled from one car toward the other, Curly, in his own defense began alerting the patrons of a nearby gas station to his plight, screaming in both English and Spanish: “This is illegal, they’re trying to kill me! Take [down] the license plate numbers of the vehicles and the numbers on the [squad] cars, in case they find me dead!” The two San Jose cops then viciously pulled him by his arms (still handcuffed behind his back) in a violent upward motion nearly breaking one of them (which is still injured), hearing an audible “pop” from his arm Curly’s brief search for safety and attention ended. The patrons of the gas station began to react to this overt act of savagery by the SJPD, thus stirring the police into fearing any further scrutiny from the community they responded by forcing Curly into the squad car and quickly speeding off him off to jail, any more brutality being successfully averted by Curly’s actions… for the moment. This kind of blatant prejudice and potential not to mention actual brutality by the SJPD is nothing new, for anyone familiar with their work and reputation. As contrary to the glowing and poignant sounding SJPD, “Vision, Mission and Values Statement”, which reads:

The San Jose Police Department is a dynamic, progressive and professional organization dedicated to maintaining community partnerships, which promote a high quality of life for the City's diverse population. The Department is committed to treating all people with dignity, fairness and respect, protecting their rights and providing equal protection under the law.

• To Promote public safety
• To prevent suppress and investigate crimes
• To provide emergency and non-emergency services
• To create and maintain strong community partnerships
• To adapt a multidisciplinary approach to solving community problems
• To develop and promote a diverse, professional workforce

• Integrity
• Courage
• Service
• Innovation
• Respect
• Diversity
• Excellence

The SJPD’s history is one of a department notorious for its insatiable brutality, pervasive prejudice, and continual indifference to San José’s poor and people of color communities, so much so, that in a department founded in 1849 (only one year after the illegal annexation and invasion of Mexican, California – the first Santa Clara County Sheriff was also empowered in that same year), one need only refer to the historical Spanish excerpt quoted on page three of the police authored San Jose Police – 1849-2003: A History of Excellence (which can be found on the SJPD website), called Indian Matters to savor the attitude of police in San José toward Mexicans, Indians, Latinos or what have you (as for how they treat the Black community, that is an entire article in and of itself);

“Although Indians in the area around the town [San José de Guadalupe] are of a good disposition and at present do not give any indication of restlessness, we should nevertheless think of them as enemies, all the more so because we are surrounded by great numbers of these heathen. They are capable at some time or another of developing an ill will toward us and getting an idea of what their vast numbers could accomplish. …We must not lull ourselves into overconfidence, therefore, and should proceed with prudence, this, in days to come, may spare us from a surprise attack or disaster…”

But the SJPD isn’t alone in taking this to heart, after all even “when there is a new Sheriff in town” why change what works, and so the SJPD and Santa Clara County Sherrif’s applied it regularly, sometimes with deadly consequences:

- 1971 – John Henry Smith (Black), killed by the SJPD

- 1976 – Danny Trevino (Latino), killed (some say assassinated)during a “traffic stop” by the SJPD, for exposing police collusion in drug trafficking.

- 5/4/1985 – Melvin Trust (Black), 17-year-old was shot and kille by SJPD officer Paul Ewing.

- 6/7/1989 – Pamela Ewing, pregnant wife to SJPD officer Paul Ewing is murdered, but her “grieving husband” claims it’s suicide, her family believes otherwise and charges Paul with the crime, and within three weeks moves his girlfriend Cynthia Perez, a fellow SJPD officer into his home to take his late wife’s place, later Officer Perez ends up in the hospital following an episode of domestic violence.

– 5/7/1993 – Carl Sciabarra, was shot to death when SJPD officers Daniel Carley and Glen Baldwin emptied their guns into him for the horrible crime of “running with scissors”, running away from the police mind you, not at them. Under oath, Carley and Baldwin’s story that it was “self-defense” was backed up by the false testimony of fellow officers Lynch, Longoria, Hathaway, and Morales.

- 9/10/1994 – Arthur Diaz (Latino), 38-years-old killed when Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Breuss drove his patrol car on to the sidewalk on Cleveland Avenue and ran him down. Though dozens of eyewitnesses saw it, his partner in crime Reserve Deputy Durr, declared it was an ‘unexpected accident by suicide’ backing up Breuss’ story, that it was Arthur who jumped in front of the car.

- 3/2/1996 – Gustavo Soto Mesa (Latino), shot in the back of the head by SCC Sheriff’s Deputy Langley, hogtied, and left to bleed into the dirt for over 20 minutes while the nearby paramedics were turned away by Deputy Santa Clara County Sheriffs involved in his shooting.

- 4/13/1999 – Jesus Julio Morales (Latino), shot to death by SJPD officer Rossmiller

- 5/14/1999 – Carrie Berterd (Poor Elderly), a legally blind diabetic woman with a leg amputation was brutally beaten by the baton of SJPD Officers Hutchings and Jesser, she never recovers from the beating and dies as result of the wounds she received.

- 6/29/1999 – Cero Anthony Thomasellas (Latino), shot dead by the SJPD officer Pryor.

- 6/30/1999 – Ray Lopez Jr. (Latino), had a diabetic seizure, unconscious he was thrown face down, arms ratcheted behind his back and secured with electrical cord and handcuffs, then “dog piled” by officers of the SJPD, killing him.

- 9/16/1999 – Danny Garcia (Latino), shot through the upper torso and killed by the SJPD

- ?/?/1999 – Anthony Montiel (Latino), unarmed, he was shot and killed by the SJPD, after surrendering to custody.

- 6/19/2001 – Yi Tzu Chen (Asian), 43-years-old female, killed by San Jose police officer Bruce Young

- 9/11/2001 – Fernando Aguilar-Garcia (Latino), 27-years-old male, shot and killed by a Santa Clara Sheriff's deputy just outside the city limits of Gilroy, and after Garcia allegedly displayed a stolen Gilroy Police Officer's handgun and pointed it at the deputy during a foot chase.

- 12/23/2001 – Richard Sharp (Poor Elderly), 53-years-old male, shot and killed by San Jose police

- 5/7/2003 – Homero Campos (Latino), 23-years old male, shot and killed by San Jose police

- 7/13/2003 – Cau Thi Bich Tran (Asian), 25-years-old Vietnamese mother of two, shot and killed by officer Chad Marshall of the San Jose Police

- 2/18/2004 – Francisco Reyes (Latino), 25-years-old male was shot by the SJPD the police auditor reported he was unarmed

- 3/6/2004 – Alfred Farrar (Poor Elderly), 59-years-old white male, shot by San Jose police.

- 6/4/2004 – John Ho (Asian), 43-years-old male, killed by San Jose police after a supposed “standoff” the police auditor reported that he did not shoot at the police.

- 8/12/2004 – Johnnie Nakao (Asian/Pacific Islander), 21-years-old, shot and killed by SJPD.

- 9/26/2004 – Zaim Bojcic (Immigrant), 40-years-old, Bosnian concentration camp survivor; tasered and then shot by the San Jose Police.

- 1/22/2005 – Hai Nguyen (Asian), 22-years-old, a Vietnamese young man, was shot and killed by San Jose police officer Richard Foster.

- 5/27/2005 – Samuel Martinez (Latino), 34-years-old was tasered and then shot and killed by a San Jose police officer.

- 8/1/2005 – Brian Patrick O'Neill (Poor), age 33, was pepper-sprayed, shot twice with a taser, and struck on the chin with a baton by San Jose police. When police began to tie his arms and legs with nylon restraints, he collapsed and stopped breathing

– 8/5/2005 – Armando Quintana Aguilar (Latino), 33-years-old, of East Palo Alto was fatally shot by a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy shot, in an exchange of gunfire during a raid on a marijuana farm near Los Gatos.

– 9/14/2005 – An unnamed man was found near the Los Altos Golf and Country Club and fatally shot by a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy.

We guess, their excuse was that “the natives were getting restless” and needed to be dealt with some ‘six-gun-frontier justice’. Curly knew all of this, because in the mid and late 90’s when the current repressive police policy was developed, Curly was hard at work advocating to end practices that had locals describing a city much like a war zone, or as one Berkeley CopWatch member recently declared to a confidant via phone when she first patrolled downtown San José: “This place is like Occupied Palestine!” Others have said much the same, in their own way, as excerpted here from the Metro article “Intimidation Factory”:

One bar owner remembers with frustration the police's unfamiliarity with his clientele. A patron had come to his bar for his birthday. At the end of the night, he wobbled outside and headed to his downtown home, on the same street as the bar. Because he was inebriated, he fumbled with his keys and had some trouble opening the door to his apartment building.

"The cops pulled up and arrested him," says the owner incredulously. "They charged him with drunk and disorderly. What's the point? He's not out there selling drugs; he weighs about 90 pounds. How hard would it have been for the cop to take his key, open the door for him and let him inside?"

Then, there's the story of a customer, who against his better judgment, went to go use the ATM too close to closing time. "Next thing you know, the guy's on the ground with two cops on him," a bar owner says. "The police are cracking down on harmless yuppies. Is it the cops' fault? Well, the cops are under direct orders to clear downtown. It's the idiots that made this decision that says downtown has to be cleared by 2am. Find me another city in the country besides Mayberry who does that."

Or more recently and away from nightclub district downtown, community members like Guatemalan immigrant Jorge Luis Trujillo who after having been beaten over the head by a baseball bat on January 27th, 2006 the SJPD pepper-sprayed him, beat on him with their batons, shot him twice with a taser in front of his home and family then… finally took him into custody, to the hospital, where he died as a result of his injuries… not that of course the SJPD had anything to do with his death, according to them (“Man, 34, dies after beating” San Jose Mercury News, Sat., Jan. 28, 2006 1B). Or in March of ’06 when several black women were victimized by the SJPD while passing through the plaza of City Hall, in the words of one; 19 year old Natasha Burton, a Criminal Justice Major at San Jose State University (SJSU), whose mother is actually a cop in Southern California: "Four officers were hitting me with batons, I wasn't being forceful. I didn't hit back, nothing. The thing that hurt me was when he was smashing my face into the concrete." And after having asked the officer for his badge number, she says the officer then "…takes his baton and pushes me back, and I put my hands up and another officer says, 'she assaulted an officer; it's a felony.'" That scenario and its conclusion sounds eeriely familiar doesn’t it? Natasha was arrested after this clashing with the SJPD, even though much of the incident was caught on tape:

But as SJPD Police Chief Rob Davis stated in mid-May of 2006: "…while some officers have intimidated people…, there is no indication of a systemic problem within the force." (ABC 7 News, May 18) Or perhaps we can find respite in times of culture, celebration and traditions such as those like Cinco de Mayo (May 5), which is one of the oldest in San José. Which even Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association describes as: "The Cinco de Mayo festival and parade have been very positive, family-oriented events for the last several years,'' he said. "We're not worried, [about trouble.]" (NBC 11, May 4 & 5, 2006) Yet there is obviously a split between the communities understanding of Cinco de Mayo, and the SJPD’s as: ‘Hundreds of members of the San Jose Police Department gang task force, some in plain clothes, were out in force beginning Friday night on foot, bicycles, patrol cars, motorcycles and horses to help keep the crowds in check, according to Capt. Diane Urban, who heads the city's [police] special operations. … The city is trying something new this year to help head-off any dangerous situations. The new tactic, pedestrian diversions, will use blockades to prevent foot traffic to sections of downtown. Police will start diverting pedestrians along Forth, San Fernando, First and St. John streets anytime they feel conditions are unsafe.’ (Ibid.) a recipe for disaster? Perhaps:

“On Cinco de Mayo [2006], celebrations in San Jose got festive -- and at times out of control. Police arrested 56 people Friday night on charges ranging from public drunkenness to assault, but it's what happened on the corner of Story and King roads that has a community riled up.

Antonio Diaz, Black Berets for Justice: "We believe that we were targeted as an organization."

Antonio Diaz says he and police watch groups [CopWatch] from Berkely and San Jose were monitoring Cinco de Mayo festivities on the city's east side. Amateur video they're sharing with ABC7 show what they claim started as a peaceful celebration, but turned into police brutality during subsequent arrests.

Antonio Diaz, Black Berets for Justice: "We already met with four of the officers earlier in the night. They had approved of the event and it wasn't an illegal assembly."”
(ABC 7 Video:

The police disagree with this assessment, but the predominantly Spanish speaking community, businesses and other witnesses have their own opinions of what happened, [links] Julio Mejio employee of Ritmo Latino (a business located on the site of the incident):

“…I saw a lot of police here… [and] I came out to see what was going on with the people here, in the plaza, and I saw a lot of people with their hands up in the air, and they weren’t doing anything bad…” (Univision 14, May 6, 2006 translated from Spanish)

By the evening of May 24th, around 200 people gathered in an Eastside San Jose forum called “Protecting the Community and Respecting Diversity” in which all the candidates for the District Attorney and Mayor were in attendance, as part of a Q&A panel with the community. Incoming Mayor Chuck Reed arrived in his own unmarked squad car with flashing lights, and “packing heat” (members of the City Council and Mayor are allowed to carry concealed weapons as a means of protection), a statement on the plight of the people of color community in San José [link] was read to them and the Eastside community at large by a member of a Coalition of Latino Organizations while a group of people stood behind him holding signs that depicted police in riot gear and had messages such as “No more racists gunslingers” and “Stop police terror.” This speaker was Raul “Curly” Estremera:

“Good evening, first let me thank the Mexican, and so called Hispanic organizations present for allowing me to make an opening statement on their behalf and for them. But let me first also thank some of the predominantly white organizations present here and get to the point immediately that although at times many of you have chosen to speak for us, and some of you have even managed to hi-jack some of our forums and programs, we ask you to respect our voice tonight. To, in effect, let us have our own voice and not attempt to keep us from truly discussing the issues, which WE see as our own. Issues which we desire to address directly, involving what we consider to be police attacks on our communities.

If this is to be just another façade of a community forum where the politicians and candidates are allowed to boast and lie, then please let us know. And many of us will gladly and openly boycott this forum, and leave you to your own shameful devices.
If this is to be another sideshow, like the hi-jacking of the so called Immigrant March and rally of April 10th, where the microphone was given to the politicians and other people who do not even look like us. And denied to the community. Likewise, the similar rip off of the International Workers day March and rally also featuring political speakers and makeshift vendido leaders who have never suffered a day of hunger in their lives – have had no problems with immigration, and are not undocumented, or will never ever strap a leaf blower on their backs in order to feed their families, then please tell us now and we will march outside of this forum to your shame.

Like other communities, we so called Latinos want equal protection under the law. Unlike other communities what we have experienced and continue to experience, as we did this Cinco de Mayo, has been nothing short of police terror, violence and Racism. Yes – that word that everyone wants to avoid saying – but that we suffer at the hands of racist police and sheriffs. Racism. What happened when the Sheriffs attacked our black and Muslim brothers only after a rally was ended at De Anza College. What truly happened at the Cinco de Mayo event at Story and King Roads? – Well here’s one for you – The thugs in full para-military riot gear attacked a helpless woman so viciously that her fall shot her legs up in the air hitting a fourth policeman in the face, she was then viciously thrown over a planter. Only later refused medical attention and to be charged with assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon. And we have the tapes to prove it.
When are we going to truly discuss the annual hate crime and open season on Mexicans by police, that has become the Cinco de Mayo festival, the Murder of Rudy Cardenas, the Taser killings. Yes, lets talk about those of us made to sit on the sidewalks in the sun dressed in our Sunday best on our way to church while indifferent law enforcement thugs rifle through our cars and our belongings.

Why can they have all the money in the world to pay for tasers and overtime, yet find none when we, demand that cameras that we the community control be installed in all police vehicles so we can, catch, fire, arrest and prosecute racist thugs that have been hired into a department that is out of control and is still allowed to police itself.

Why is it, that only us, in the so called Hispanic community see them park their cars three abreast at the convenient store on Tenth and Santa Clara streets every night doing nothing but drinking free coffee and accumulating overtime which we all must pay for.
Only when you’ve been on the other side of a nightstick, attacked, bloodied and brutalized can you know and identify with the victim. And only when we can face the reality that we have allowed some of these thugs to be given a badge and put in charge of “our” safety, can we truly weed them out, and make them accountable.

So here are some of our problems laid bare and the very reasons why some of us in the overwhelmingly Mexican and so called Latino community suffer the almost agonizing choice of having to call a so called policeman – or having to defend ourselves, then later have to further suffer the bad reputation given to a community that is forced to have to seemingly take matters into their own hands for lack of equal protection under the law. We thank you for having invited us, but please, let us speak openly about the real issues. And mostly join us in calling for police accountability and an end to police brutality and violence in ALL of our communities. Not just some. Thank you.

But yes, San José is the “Safest Big City in America” as long as you’re not poor, a person of color or an immigrant dealing with the police, Curly knew this… and the powers that be, know Curly. And of course, there is no such thing as prejudice or bias in the police of San José, after all even at the most minimum San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis said; “There is no evidence to support allegations that the San Jose Police Department engages in racial profiling, we don’t condone racial profiling.” And “There is no racial profiling here, …It’s not about race or ethnicity; it’s about responding to crime.” (San Jose Mercury News, Wed., Aug. 16, 2006 2B, and Sat., Aug. 5, 2006). And even such luminaries as the new mayor Dixiecrat Mayor Chuck Reed who said; “Why would I want to mess with something that works?” (Ibid Aug. 16, 2006 2B.) and “I think we have a system that works and works well if people are willing to use it.” (San Jose Mercury News, Sat. May, 20, 2006, 6B). Not to mention City Councilman Forrest Williams who declared with authority: “We don’t have a lot of problems with the police department.” (Ibid.) Heck, even the local paper concurs with their assessment as this May 19th, 2006 headline declares in bold type on the front page: “No Racial Profiling By SJPD Found.”
So what could Curly have to fear from the police in San Jose, be them Sheriff’s or SJPD?
Now lets be clear, racial profiling is an indulgent euphemism for evidence of the much more ominous; Racism…. Dun, dun, dun! Too bad, everyone seems to either be unable to read or suffers from quite a severe case of amnesia, because the February 8-14, 2006 issue of the Metro (pg. 15) recounts that:

“In 1999, before he was the city’s top cop. [Rob] Davis began a “vehicle stop demographic study” under then-Chief William Lansdowne in response to community complaints that minorities were being pulled over because of visible ethnic characteristics. He reasoned that solid statistics would provide the best answer. He was right - but it wasn’t the answer he was looking for. … The initial results of the ongoing study, released in 1999, showed that African Americans accounted for 7 percent of the motorists pulled over in a three-month period. … Davis used 1990 census data and growth rates to estimate the African Americans made up to 4.5 percent of the city’s population. But when [you] look at the census numbers that came out just a year later, it was clear the math didn’t hold up: the 2000 census showed that African Americans made up only 2.5 percent of the population – revealing a gap in the traffic-stop percentages much greater than Davis’s guess suggested. [There can be] found an even bigger error in its review of the numbers for Latinos, a group that accounted for a whopping 43 percent of the vehicle stops back in ’99. Davis estimated that they made up 31 percent of the San Jose population, but 2000 census data showed the real percentage was only 24. The numbers for the non-Latino white population were right: roughly 44 percent of the city and 29 percent of vehicle stops.

…[Though] Davis’ number[s] from 1999 may be even more problematic in light of signs that the number of police stops dropped by about 10 percent the year the study started. Gary Wood and Gertrude Welch remember Chief Lansdowne telling this to Santa Clara County’s Justice Review Committee during a 1999 presentation. An online interview with SJPD officer Dario Estrabao (Conducted by the local [police] union) hints at the same phenomenon. Estrabao says he was told that the department made 10,000 fewer car stops that year because the officers were being “more selective.””

Hummm, a conspiracy of forgetting and data manipulation… wait, maybe this is too harsh and too separate a critique from the case of a patient being attacked in a clinic by a rogue cop on an irrational power trip while moonlighting, but then again, maybe not considering Curly is one of few key people involved directly in the organizing that pressed the SJPD into producing this very study? And so what if Silicon Valley NAACP President Rick Callender said; "Yeah, the data is no good, …They say their data is no good — the problem is that all they have is black people in their data, if they have any data." (Metro, Feb. 15, 2006) But nope not according to the current Police Chief, you’d think that no such report exists, there is no racism in the San José Policing. How quickly they forget how to read, when in the 2005-2006 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report: Racial Profiling Bye San Jose Police Department – Perception Vs. Reality (which only interviewed a whopping 13 people mind you), a summary of which clearly reads:

“The 2005-2006 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury (Grand Jury) reviewed allegations from individuals and concerns from community organizations that the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) has a department-wide problem of racial profiling. … As a result of an extensive inquiry, the Grand Jury believes there are legitimate concerns regarding individual police excesses. …It appears there is some level of intentional or unintentional intimidation on the part of individual members of the SJPD. [While] Many individuals do not report perceived abuses or incidents of racial profiling due to concerns about retribution from the SJPD. [And that] The [arrest] statistics are disproportionate compared to the census-based African-American (2.0%) and Hispanic (31.7%) populations of San Jose…”

And from that small handful of interviews garnered the following, that (as excerpted from the Civil Grand Jury Report):

“It appears that “suspicious” vehicles/drivers are sometimes stopped for what seem to be minor violations, such as a license plate light being out or failing to signal 100 feet before making a turn. In reviewing a number of these situations, the stop appears to have been a pretense to conduct a “fishing expedition” [i.e. harassment] search to ascertain if the driver or passengers might be involved in other illegal activities, such as possessing drugs, firearms, etc.

In some instances, where there is no visible problem, individuals may be asked to step out of the vehicle and allow a search of the vehicle when there is no evident probable cause for such a search. If the individual contests such action, it appears an officer’s authority may be used to imply that the driver is impeding a legitimate investigation and, in some instances, to threaten arrest if cooperation is not granted.

In several situations where an individual requests the officer’s name and badge number, it appears that the officer views this as a confrontation and may result in a further verbal escalation and/or threat of arrest.

…In some cases, individuals were patted down, handcuffed, and subsequently released. The impact of such treatment on the individual can be traumatic and give reason to believe that the SJPD does racial profiling.

[As] the Grand Jury does believe, based on direct observations and interviews with complainants, that there are individual instances of police excess which must be addressed by City management and SJPD, from the Chief down to the patrolling officers.”

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck maybe it is Racial Profiling or maybe just an inability to read! Not (of course) to be outdone by the SJPD, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department has its own issues with the blatant bigotry and prejudices of Racial Profiling, as in this first person account by a SJSU graduate student of his meeting with the Sheriff’s Department on November 11th of 2005:

“For many who do not know, I, Elgrie Hurd, III was unjustly arrested and beaten by Santa Clara County Sheriffs last Friday night at a protest against Colin Powell justifying the war in Iraq at De Anza (Community) College in Cupertino. … It was wrong what happened to me. I am a firm believer that the law enforcement should help keep our community safe. This didn’t happen on Friday.

… There were at least 3 officers on top of me. They slammed onto the asphalt. They struck me with Billy clubs, pinched my skin. They didn’t tell me why they were grabbing me; they didn’t tell me if I was under arrest or what I was being charged for. Instead they shoved my face into the asphalt. I screamed in pain. I asked them to let me go, and that I hadn’t done anything wrong. They grinded my right hand into the asphalt. They handcuffed me and threw me onto the sheriff car. They searched for me by feeling me up like I was a prostitute they paid for. Then, they threw [me] into the sheriff car face down on the backseat (with my [feet] in the air).

… As they were driving with me in the back, I was telling them, “officer my hands are going numb.” But my pain went unheard. When they stopped they asked me to get out, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t sitting in the backseat; I was lying across from it. They pulled me out.

… During the pre-booking process I was charged with battery of an officer and resisting arrest. My official booking paper said battery of an officer and false report of a bomb/explosive. Where are they getting this from? I have witnesses that saw the officers reach for me even as I was following their instructions; I have witnesses that were with me all night that did not see me do anything illegal.

… I thought this was America. I thought we had the freedom of speech. …No, it’s because I was Black; it’s because I have locks in my hair. And to the sheriffs, they thought I was Muslim too; I was profiled as a terrorists. Where’s the justice? … All of the protesters who were arrested outside the event were either Black or Arab (“Middle Eastern”). We were beat up and locked up until Saturday morning. Two of the protesters were in jail most of the weekend.” (From a personal statement, issued by Elgrie Hurd III to his friends and family).

A little background on Elgrie Hurd III, he had received numerous awards as an undergraduate in behavioral sciences, including the Cal Poly Pomona Black Faculty & Staff Book Award (2001), the Black History Month Flame Award (2001) and the Betty and Silas Wright Scholarship (2002). He had also received recognition for his efforts as a resident and community advisor. He is proud of his community service efforts, especially in connection with "Roots and Wings," the African American Student Center's documentary of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Hurd also served as the co-chair for Black History Month, which included organizing a conference for students at Pomona High School that detailed the key role education plays in the success of the African American community. This was all prior to his arrest, and his attending a graduate program in San José where he became a husband, a student liaison for the African American Faculty and Staff Association, a member in good standing with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and a weekly attendee of Bible Studies, not that the city of San José or surrounding area has a problem with police racism and violence or anything, oh… and yes, Curly helped this victim as well, specifically because the outcome of that night for the Muslims and other people of color was in stark contrast to the statements by the Deputy Sheriff in charge that night, who is quoted as saying:

“’Although initially peaceful, the protests involving 50 to 100 people heated up after 8 p.m., when fewer than a dozen protesters in black ski masks started throwing rocks at deputies in riot gear and marching around the area, chanting and passing out fliers, [Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Terrence] Helm said. No one was injured during the protests, he added.’” (San Jose Mercury News, Sat. Nov. 12, 2005)

Perhaps two of the other arrestee’s are right, in their assessment of things:

Brian Helmle, arrested at protest: "In terms of racial profiling, it is undeniable that people outside [were] treated very roughly, I sat in van waiting to be released and they were being brought in and they had been brutalized. They were very upset."

Hanny Zaki, arrested at protest: "During the protest I was wearing a Palestinian scarf and I believe I was targeted and arrested by police because of the garment[s] I was wearing."

The Santa Clara County sheriff's department denies using racial profiling that night. It says it only arrested people actively assaulting police.”
(KGO-ABC TV, Dec. 13, 2005

Sometimes however, things can work in the favor of the community, like here in this television report from a few months ago:, and if you look hard you might even see Curly in the background. Or how about the much more frightening case from December 1st of 2000, in which:

“The attorney for a man facing battery charges unveiled videotape during a preliminary hearing in court Thursday that he claims shows his client being beaten unnecessarily by Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies and attacked by a police dog.” (San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 1, 2000)

Too bad the San Jose Chief of Police and County Sheriff don’t share some of the sentiments that their Bay Area peers hold, they could probably learn something from the likes of Captain Ron Davis of the Oakland Police Department, who stated to National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), in Sept. 9, 2003, that:

“Racial profiling … is one of the most ineffective strategies, and I call it nothing less than lazy, sloppy police work. It’s basically saying you don’t’ want to learn about your community, you don’t want to learn about people’s behavior, you don’t want to do your job, and you don’t want to investigate, you just want to stop a lot of people and see if you can come up with some statistical number at the end of the evening. …”

Curly Behind Bars

Once at the Santa Clara County jail and headed toward the waiting hands of the Sheriff’s Department (who runs county), Curly ill, wounded and spinning as a result of his illness refused to be booked until such time as he’d received medical attention, demanding that he be seen by a doctor and taken to the hospital (which is his legal right, and the legal obligation of the police to oblige) as a result of his injuries caused during transportation by the SJPD, the pepper-spray attack by the Deputy Sheriff, his own chronic illnesses and a lack of his medication. Again:

Officers Task: Duty To Protect Citizens
DeShaney v. Winnebago County, 489 U.S. 189 (1989).
Law enforcement officers, like all government actors, generally have no duty under the constitution to protect citizens from harm caused by third party, non-government actors.

Law enforcement officers have an obligation to protect citizens who they have taken into custody because in depriving the person of liberty, officers have also deprived the individual of the ability to care for him or herself.

Officers Task: Duty to Protect Prisoners
Deshaney v. Winnebago County, 489 U.S. 189 (1989).
The Supreme Court acknowledged in this case that police have a duty to protect prisoners, who, due to the restriction on their liberty, are deprived of any means to protect themselves.

Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976).
Although this case dealt with prisoners who had been sentenced, courts use the standard from this case in concluding that police officers must not be deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of a person in their custody.

Deliberate Indifference means that the officers learn of a medical condition and fail to take steps to get medical treatment for the person in their custody.

If not for the fact that Curly is a seasoned activist, with a long history of grassroots work in the community, this story, would be like so many others in San José or the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, unknown, anonymous and forgotten and ended here. However, Curly’s uncompromising sense of justice and a willingness to struggle for his rights, bought him the most precious of commodities… time. In the time lapse that the brief couple of hours in which Curly was alone against the armed thugs who sickening refer to themselves as “peace officers,” it was his own commitment to the community that served to save him. Because, while Curly was occupied struggling for his life and safety, at the worried request of his family, numerous youth and community activists simply proceeded to the clinic under the expectation that perhaps Curly needed to be picked up, or he was postponed due to medical reasons, only to uncover the beginnings of this still developing scenario around the brutality and arrest of Curly. Informed that Curly had been arrested, and was “in custody at Valley Medical Center” these activists alerted his family, and mobilized to find out exactly why he was in treatment, and what happened… by going to Valley Medical Center and Curly directly.

They were only to arrive and be informed that he is in custody, to have his wife and family refused any and all information on his present medical condition, to be ignored by the nursing staff, until they could cooperate in him being snuck out the back door into the waiting cuffs of the SJPD, which in and of itself is odd, considering:

Custody & Transportation
“The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for the transportation of all inmates within Santa Clara County Department of Corrections. This would include movements for court, medical appointments, state prison runs, inter-jail movement as well as any other such movement involving County inmates. During the year, the Sheriff’s Transportation Division is responsible for approximately 250,000 inmate movements.” (See:

And then was whisked back to the County Jail to be “re-booked”, while his family was to be re-subjected to the belligerent, racist, aggressive and intimidating harassment and verbal attacks by the multiple officers escorting him. The hospital medical staff and the police made sure that no information was given to his family… except to witness him being led back to a waiting squad car in a hospital gown and hand cuffs. Though, Curly only received that limited bit of medical attention at Valley Medical Center because he had argued and fought for it, and even then they X-rayed his shoulder, indifferent to his pleas that is was the area around his elbow that had been wounded most of all, and that he really needed his medication as he had a incurable medical condition that needed to be regulated. His pleas were ignored, even by the medical personal at the hospital that was supposed to help him.

Scrambling for information and comfort, his family and friends did all they could to decipher what exactly had occurred to bring this entire crisis about, to consolidate what little funds they had for any future bail, knowing that Curly needed to be out as soon as possible, not because it politically, or emotionally suited their interests, but because the person they cared about was so ill that without medication its highly possible that he would end up in the hospital for a much longer stay than a prescription pick up, especially since he’d left his medication behind at the Valley Health Center prior to his arrest and hoping and praying that he’d be OR’ed (released on his Own Recognizance) if for no other reason than Curly has had no problems with the law in decades, and that his health made a stay in jail impossible. This was to be proven a misguided wish at best. For the horror show that is the Santa Clara County and San Jose system of justice was only moving into its next phase of inhumanity. Because the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections has its own story to tell about the fates of those held in their custody:

2003 – Gilbert Rael, 31-year-old Morgan Hill house painter dies at Elmwood of a bacterial infection caused by a festering toothache.

October, 2004 – Scott Marino, 33, a methamphetamine user dies at Valley Medical Center, six weeks after he had been forcibly subdued with two pepper spray blasts directly to his face, – “dog-piled” in the words of one nurse – by officers in an isolation cell and no sustained attempt at CPR was given to him, even though he’d stopped breathing for a full nine minutes until the nurses arrived to restore his pulse, by then he’d suffered irreparable brain damage. (He had been clean of illicit drugs the duration of his incarceration, and methamphetamine cycles out of the system rather quickly.)

January, 2005 – Raina Benavidez, 49, a San Jose woman serving a nine-month sentence on a probation violation at Elmwood women’s jail (a Santa Clara County Sheriffs run facility), dies of sepsis from an acute abdominal infection. Three weeks before, she had filed a grievance saying she was denied a doctor. Benavidez suffered alcohol-related liver disease, but her daughter said she had complained about her health to the jail nurses for weeks to no avail, and that her death could have been prevented.

March, 2005 – a 42-year-old man who had been brought in on traffic warrants following an auto accident dies after officers subdue him in a booking area. Handcuffed to a chair, he allegedly was combative when they tried to help him.

While by late March of the same year “County officials [would] say a fourth lingers on life support after an attempted hanging at Elmwood Correctional Center last Friday.” (According the San Jose Mercury News, Thur. Mar. 31, 2005) Not to mention all the “suicides” that “seem to just continue to happen” to those in custody at the Santa Clara County Jail:

“An inmate who had recent contact with mental health professionals apparently committed suicide by pulling a plastic bag tight over his head and securing it with a bed sheet in his cell at the Santa Clara County main jail late Wednesday evening, the county Department of Correction reported Thursday.

The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to establish the man's cause and manner of death. If confirmed by the medical examiner, this case would be the first to commit suicide in the county jail this year. Last year, two inmates committed suicide in the county jail.”
(Bay City News, 2006

And that by February of 2005, in one of the largest legal sums ever rewarded, $1.7 Million was given by Santa Clara County to plaintiffs to settle their whistle blower claim against the county:

“The suit -- alleging inmates were given substandard and possibly illegal health care -- prompted a review of jail health care that county officials maintain is a model. But complaints continue, including one sparked by an inmate death in January that remains under investigation. … But relatives of inmates who have died in custody remain concerned about the county's care for people entirely dependent upon their jailers for access to doctors and medicine. [And the suit further alleges that]:

• Because of a physician shortage, jail nurses were giving out medication without proper supervision by doctors, a practice the suit described as ``extremely dangerous'' and a possible violation of the state's Nursing Practice Act.

• County officials refused to consider a dialysis clinic inside the jail that would have avoided sending inmates with kidney problems to the county hospital for treatment because the county wanted to maintain a scheme of illegally billing Medi-Cal for the procedure.

• Inmates were not given timely examinations at the psychiatric ward, where documentation and treatment plans were substandard.
§English flier
by El Voz
§Spanish Flier
by El Voz
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