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Gay Latino Says Cops Sexually Assaulted Him

by Dan Waterhouse (posted by Mike Rhodes) (queereyefresno [at]
Did Fresno police detain a gay Latino man, accuse him of hiding drugs in his anus, and then rupture the lining of his rectum in the ensuing search? The attorney for the plaintive said they did. A spokesperson for the city claimed there was no violation of Police Department policy or procedure found. Business as usual in Fresno? You decide.
Gay Latino Says Cops Sexually Assaulted Him
By Dan Waterhouse
“Queer Eye….”

A 30-something Fresno gay man has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer and four unidentified officers who allegedly handcuffed him, bent “him double” and then penetrated his anus with a foreign object—a thumb or finger.

According to the civil complaint, four Fresno police officers showed up at Cain Gonzalez’s home in a Southeast Fresno gated community on November 7, 2005 where they detained and handcuffed him. The officers claimed he had drugs in his possession.

Gonzalez’s attorney, Bruce Nickerson, says the accusation was false and no charges were ever filed against Gonzalez in the incident.

The complaint then alleges that one of the officers “perceived that” Gonzalez “was gay and said: ‘I know where you faggots keep your shit’.” That officer “then and there” shoved a finger into Gonzalez’s anus, searching for drugs. According to Nickerson, “the invasive act ruptured the lining of” Gonzalez’s “rectum causing him excruciating pain.”

When Gonzalez’ mother Soila attempted to come to his aid, Nickerson says the officers ordered her into her house.

Nickerson says Gonzalez then began bleeding “profusely” from his rectum. He said officers later took Gonzalez to a local hospital for treatment.

Nickerson says that the officers made comments to Gonzalez that leads Nickerson to believe Fresno police “have a policy and practice of assaulting gay Hispanic men.”

Nickerson is familiar with local police practices even though he’s based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He currently represents several gay men arrested in the infamous 2002 Sheriff’s Department undercover sex stings in Roeding Park. He was recently successful in having several cases overturned on appeal. The appellate judges concluded there had been no illegal behavior and that the arrests had been discriminatory.

In the Gonzalez case, Nickerson says Gonzalez missed a court appearance on an unrelated drug charge in Madera because he was being held in the Fresno County Jail. When he failed to appear, a Madera judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest on November 15th.

When Gonzalez was released without any charges from the Fresno County Jail during the third week in November, he was then arrested on the Madera County warrant and transferred to the Madera county jail where he was initially placed in protective custody because of his sexual orientation.

Nickerson alleges in the lawsuit that four days after arriving at the Madera jail, Gonzalez was moved into the “open prison population and was immediately assaulted by gang members, who slashed his ear and broke his eardrum.” The lawsuit claims Gonzalez was placed in ‘general population’ in order to intimidate him so that he would not file a complaint against Fresno police. The suit names Madera County sheriff John Anderson and the County as defendants.

Gonzalez seeks unspecified damages, a judgment that the practices described in the suit violate the U.S. Constitution and an injunction stopping police from “targeting, harassing and/or arresting” Latinos “who are minding their own business.”

According to Nickerson, Fresno police refuse to identify the four officers who allegedly assaulted and arrested Gonzalez. He said that Fresno police will not release any reports.

Francine Kanne, an assistant Fresno city attorney, told the Fresno Bee that normally the city does not comment on lawsuits before they have been served. “However,” she added, “given the serious nature of Gonzalez's allegations, the city is compelled to respond.” Kanne said Fresno police received a complaint from Cain Gonzalez that was “thoroughly investigated by the city.” Following the investigation, she claimed there was no violation of Police Department policy or procedure found.

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