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Indybay Feature
Off-Duty SCPD Cop Draws Gun on Salvation Army Food Seeker
by Robert Norse and Colin Campbell Clyde
Friday Nov 29th, 2013 2:44 PM
Several witnesses at the Tuesday Salvation Army Thanksgiving Meal including the mother of the victim reported that Officer Hernandez assaulted Jasmine Byron by knocking a plate of food out of her hand, threatening her with his gun, and subsequently taunting her from his car. Hernandez's stated objective: to stop Jasmine from trying to take a plate of food out the door after having she said she'd asked permission to do so.
Yesterday on the stream of Free Radio, I interviewed Jasmine Byron and her husband Shade, who witnessed Hernandez's assault. The first hour of the audio stream (after a silence of 12 minutes or so) at presents that interview along with commentary from Colin Campbell Clyde. He summarized his understanding of what happened. His account was initially posted on the Citizens for a Positive Santa Cruz, a new website, started to address issues and people banned from Steve Pleich's Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz site.

(at )

"Officer Hernandez pulled a gun on my friend Jasmine and pointed it at her face at close range while volunteering off-duty at a Salvation Army Thanksgiving meal. Apparently this was super-necessary to prevent her from "stealing" a plate of leftover food, which he also knocked out of her hand, spilling the food all over the floor, the wall, even the ceiling. A few minutes later, Hernandez bragged and gloated about what he'd done. Her whole family is in shock and her mother has been having panic attacks since the incident.

Is this what people had in mind when "We Support Our Police" poster went up all over town when some cops were murdered earlier this year? Why was this man-boy wearing a gun to volunteer at a community event? Is the city or the legal system going to ANYTHING to reign in this loose cannon before he hurts someone again, perhaps more seriously next time? Or do cops get immunity to commit crimes (assault and battery in this case) in Santa Cruz, even when they're not at work?"

Jasmine and Shade Byron play sweet music on Pacific Avenue and at the Farmer's Market in a group known as The Dirty Pines. This serious, public, and callous incident of assault and battery followed by harassment--if accurately described by witnesses--is likely to be covered up and rolled past. KSBW did interview Jasmine at the scene, but I've not heard that they've played it. Police declined to come though they were called.

When Jasmine and her mother went to the police station and reported the crime there, one of the interviewing officers was Officer Vasquez, whose spring sidewalk-smashing of Richard Hardy on video ( ) has yet to be concluded--or at least no such announcement has been made.

In the hours and days that followed, Jasmine and her mother also stated they suffered post traumatic stress syndrome symptoms (headaches, panic attacks, inability to sleep, disorientation, irrational [rational?] fear of police, etc.]. A Salvation Army worker who witnessed the event reportedly broke down in tears.

Councilmember Micah Posner was twice advised about the situation but has not replied to my phone calls (831-227-4772) nor has Mayor Robinson, who also received word of the assault at the Thursday Civic Center Thanksgiving Meal (when she served me pumpkin pie). SC Patch police publicist Brad Kava was also informed, but I've not seen anything on SC Patch about the issue.

I circulated a flier (now updated and corrected) yesterday which I attach below. There is more discussion of the incident on the Citizens for a Positive Santa Cruz website at .

My accounts come from those who were directly impacted by Hernandez's behavior. I encourage others who witnessed this incident to post or contact me at 831-423-4833.
§In Addition
by Robert Norse Friday Nov 29th, 2013 2:51 PM
Jasmine said that Hernandez's stated rationale for slapping the food plate out of her hand and then pulling his gun was the Salvation Army's "rule" that food was not to be taken outside. She says as someone with a stomach condition that did not allow her to eat much at a meal and with the permission of Salvation Army workers, she was trying to leave with a plate of food, partially covered by her coat.

When Hernandez demanded to search her, she refused--which, she suggests, he regarded as an intolerable threat to his authority, provoking what they describe as his violent behavior, the drawing of the gun, and the subsequent waving it in her face and shoving it in her back.

Jasmine and Shade go into more of these details on the audio file. They also noted that many people had plates of food outside, so even without explicit "permission" and that it was not an uncommon practice.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by John E. Colby
Friday Nov 29th, 2013 4:25 PM
These are ones I recommend, especially Jeff Kallis in San Jose because he's super smart.

by G
Friday Nov 29th, 2013 6:02 PM
Dumping them into guard duty at the jails is insufficient.

What happens to those managerial types that are responsible for getting bad cops off the street, and fail?

Repent, SCPD, repent.
Just off the top of my head:

1. personal injury lawsuit
2. criminal charges against Officer hernandez
3. Discpl charges agasint Officer Hernandez
4. implementation of a citizens police review board with teeth
5. city review of SCPD mental health screening practices
6. City review of SCPD policy and training manual in regards to use of deadly force,threatening use of deadly force


from the description of the event I heard online, this man is a ticking time bomb and getting his gun out of his hand is going to save the community future grief.
by John E. Colby
Friday Nov 29th, 2013 10:23 PM
I am demanding that Chief Vogel answer questions why the SCPD discriminates against disabled people.

Reference my email to him using the following link or as a PDF attachment.
by Razer Ray
Saturday Nov 30th, 2013 7:39 AM
I read that a 'report was made'. Is that an official police report?

Personally, due to the absolutely surreal nature of the incident as reported here I suspect there's something missing from this story. Can anyone produce a copy of the complaint for the public to see the full reported details of the incident?

It WOULD seem that officer's "Carry Card" is at risk. Has the county prosecutor been notified that an off duty SCPD working a private security detail pulled a gun on a civilian over no crime at all? That's at least, "Brandishing".

But to answer the question. They never get off the street. If fired from one department for abusive behavior or whatever they simply go to another PD with a higher tolerance for whatever their bad behavior was.

There IS NO 'license' to be a police officer. The only thing that could happen is loss of your carry permit or security clearance/background check, or ability to be 'bond-able', and there's ALWAYS some bonding company that will, for a price.
by petraK
Saturday Nov 30th, 2013 10:28 AM
I'd like to see a copy of the report as well. Attorney? Secured evidence?

If you are going to play, please play to win.
Criminal incidents in the City of Santa Cruz are almost immediately available on or should be unless the police purposely tamper with them. Also by law, the police are supposed to report all arrests — with the factual circumstances and the names of the arrestees unless they're juveniles — on the police blotter.

Likewise, if they're booked into the county jail, then their arrests — with name(s), arrest location, charge(s), court case number(s) and DOB(s) — by law must be listed on the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's arrest logs.

Unfortunately, the SCPD and the Sheriff's can hide the identities of VIPs by not listing these arrests on the police blotter and the arrest logs.

This recently occurred for a DUI arrest on November 1, 2013 near U-Save Liquors. I found a hit for it on and made a public records request for the identity of the perp.

After the SCPD records supervisor told me — this was over 30 days after the incident — that the police report had not been approved yet, I noticed that it had never been listed on the SCPD police blotter nor on the Sheriff's arrest logs.

I have been corresponding with California Freedom of Information (FOI) experts about this. They all agreed this was suspicious and violated several laws. Read their correspondence using the links below:

by Razer Ray
Wednesday Dec 4th, 2013 8:42 AM
RN said here or in public: "A report has been filed".

Surely he doesn't mean the 'complainant's' report to him?

Or does he?

Still waiting to see an official report. Until then I consider this incident to be a HALF truth, and potentially libelous.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Dec 4th, 2013 8:58 AM
Jasmine and her mom told me they filed reports and were interviewed by police (one of the interviewers was Officer Vasquez) shortly after the incident. More recently, Jasmine's mom mentioned that another witness also went to the police station to "make a report". No word yet on videos. These reports presumably can be accessed by the victims or complainants (though I haven't double checked on this). Jasmine and her mom may show up at the HUFF meeting today.

Regarding G's "if you're going to play, play to win" point, my reporting is a form of encouraging, opening up issues, and raising questions. My hope is that others will become interested and pick up the cases.

Perhaps Razor Ray, G, or someone else would like to make requests of the SCPD for public access to the reports (which will likely be denied, but the pressure would still be good). When I'm over at the SCPD after the HUFF meeting checking on amplified sound permits (ugh), I'll inquire, but the more who do, the better. Particularly the victims. I doubt they'll release any police commentary until long after the event (if then) unless pressured by higher-up's (perhaps Councilmember Posner...? Or perhaps demonstrations?
by petrak
Wednesday Dec 4th, 2013 12:10 PM
or are they wanting this to go away?

I think protests are nice but if the victims don't want to proceed then it's hard to move forward in terms of any level of organizing or publicity or calls for justice etc, if there is no proof and if the only witnesses (currently) are the victim(s), who might just want to avoid the whole thing and try and heal.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Dec 4th, 2013 11:55 PM
Half an hour after the HUFF meeting ended this afternoon around 1:30 PM, the two of us visited SCPD HQ. Bonnie, the woman at the desk, told us first that no report had been filed on November 26 (the day three witnesses testified under penalty of perjury that Hernandez pulled his gun after assaulting and battering Jasmine). Jasmine's mom informed her that this was strange, since she'd been interviewed in a room just off the SCPD lobby (which she pointed to).

On second check, Bonnie suggested that she'd have to talk to Sgt. (Lt.?) McPhillips who is apparently now covering Professional Standards (Internal Affairs--the SCPD's "we investigate ourselves" department). She passed on Bonnie's phone number and written request to be contacted (which she had time stamped and got a copy of--a good procedure if you're making a paper trail for a report that they may be uninterested in releasing). Of course, there was no record of an assault and battery charge filed. Our SCPD don't assault and batter--they just use necessary force, as we all know.

I'm awaiting a call from Lt. Warren Barry on his procedure for issuing amplified sound permits--to determine how many were granted, how many denied. The SCPD did come through with a box of documents to examine of granted sound permits.

On another subject---For the upcoming Public Assembly law debate (12-12 at City Council), it will be useful to see public records (supposedly available by Monday, the day before the meeting and the final vote) on how many public assembly permits were granted, how many denied. The real issue, of course, since most protests on political matters don't even ask for permits--at least most that I've been to. And they spill into the streets as well--something the new law seems likely to be taking harsher measures against.
by John E. Colby
Thursday Dec 5th, 2013 3:56 AM
by Dan Waterhouse, Newslink Fresno
Friday Dec 6th, 2013 7:32 AM
As required under state law nothing relating to an internal affairs complaint or investigation may be released to anyone, including the complaint(s). The Peace Officer Bill of Rights totally trumps the Public Records Act.
Other California police departments release police reports to the victims for the case being reported on.

Los Angeles —

Sacramento —

Carlsbad —

Fullerton —

Rocklin —

San Ramon —

Why do these police departments release crime reports to victims of those crimes while the SCPD hides them? Crime victims in Santa Cruz deserve to be treated like those in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Carlsbad, Fullerton, Rocklin, San Ramon, etc.
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