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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | East Bay | Santa Cruz Indymedia | U.S. | Police State and Prisons
Miguel Masso Strikes Again
Miguel Masso and officers like him – victims of trauma from being in the military or otherwise, those who see a gun behind every shadow, hotheads, “cowboys,” and those whose ego prevent them from dealing with the public with restraint and respect when the public is not reciprocating, do not belong on police forces.
In 2012 an official investigation revealed that Officer Miguel Masso, a minute or so before he fatally shot a young man, "went into auto pilot and could no longer hear."
Knowing such, would you later hire this man to carry a gun and be involved in high-stress situations on a daily basis?
Would you hire a man to serve and protect after he was sued, in part, for this:
"Officer Gottlieb, Police Officer Vanhorn, Police Officer Reveron and Police Officer Masso entered his holding cell. They commenced to assault and batter the plaintiff, with physical and electronic force, which was totally unjustified... Plaintiff was repeatedly struck by Tasers... causing his back to sustain severe burn marks and permanent scarring, along with neurological, psuchological and other personal injuries..."
Would you hire a man to deal with the public on a daily basis who had been accused of torturing a prisoner in New York City, when the investigation concluded that the charge had been "neither proved nor disproved" ?
Would you hire a man who shot himself in the foot as he killed 18 year old Alan Blueford on the streets of Oakland, CA on the night of May 6th, 2012? Whose body camera mysteriously turned off as he chased Blueford through a street party? Who sources claimed had admitted in deposition during civil suit questioning that he had PTSD from his tour of duty in Iraq?
Miguel Masso was hired by the Oakland Police after leaving his job in New York City in 2007 in the wake of the torture lawsuit cited above. He resigned from the Oakland Police Department in late Spring of 2014 in the aftermath of the lawsuit brought by the Blueford family against the City of Oakland. He quickly found another job with the Hollister Police in August, 2014.
Hollister, CA is a town of some 37,000 people about two hours south, southeast of San Francisco. On January 28th, 2017, at about 10:30 PM, Earl Malanado, a 50 year old mechanic, and his wife, residents of Hollister, CA, stopped at a traffic light on Highway 25 and, from the rightmost turn lane, turned right. For some reason Officer Masso, alone in a patrol car and stopped four lanes over in the leftmost turn lane, decided to back up, cut across three lanes, turn right and begin to follow Mr. Malanado's car.
After following the Malanado's car for about a mile without lights or siren, Masso pulled Malanado over, approached the car, and informed Mr. Malanado that the license plate information that came back for his car did not match the car description. This was puzzling, as Malanado had, a year prior, registered the plates with the car.
What Earl Malanado was actually in violation of was an expired registration and not having proof of insurance on him. Earl knew he had messed up and had no problem accepting responsibility for these failures, and so told Officer Masso. What he couldn't figure out is why Masso had tailed and stopped him in the first place.
Masso went back to his police car to write up tickets for the violations - the issue of the license plate data not matching the car's description never came up again. Upon returning to Malanado's car to have Earl sign the citations, Officer Masso saw that Earl had his cell phone out and was filming, as is his constitutional right. Masso became visibly upset. He asked Mr. Malanado whether he would sign the tickets and he got an affirmative. Then Malanado asked him repeatedly why he had been pulled over, because it still didn't make sense. Was the license plate/description issue made up out of thin air to provide an excuse to execute the stop? But what attracted Masso's attention to Malando's car in the first place?
Masso wouldn't answer, and then said "I'm going to take you to jail." He ordered Mr. Malanado out of the car. That's when things went south.
According to Malanado, Masso opened the car door himself and, as Earl exited, the officer grabbed him, yanking him out of the car. Masso swept Malanado's cell phone out of his hand, into the air and over the hood to land on the other side of the vehicle. Masso then proceeded to drag him to the rear of the car, screaming at him and smashing him to the ground. Pushing Earl's face into the dirt and pressing on the back of his knees, Earl was having difficulty breathing while Masso continued shouting incoherently, occasionally saying "Stop Resisting!" despite Earl doing what he could to cooperate - in fear of his life.
This continued until a second officer, Matthew Weiss, pulled up, at which time Masso handcuffed Mr. Malanado, yanked him to his feet by the handcuffs (causing Earl to bleed at the wrists and injure his elbow), arrested him for resisting arrest, ultimately giving him into the custody of Officer Weiss.
Fortunately for Mr. Malanado, the danger to his life ended when Weiss arrived, but the violations of his civil rights did not. Taken to the jail for booking, instead of bringing Earl directly into the jail when they arrived, Officer Weiss took him aside, and without reading him his Miranda rights, began to question him about what had happened. Hours later, after Earl had been released from jail and gone to the hospital, Weiss reappeared and again began questioning Malanado without informing him of his right to remain silent.
We don't know what would have happened if Officer Weiss had not pulled up. What is certain is that Miguel Masso most certainly should never had been hired by the Hollister Police. (Nor should he have been hired by the Oakland Police, for that matter, given his record from New York City.)
If the Hollister Police did not know what track record their potential hire had, that is bad - very bad. Insufficient background checks and potential withholding of information by other departments where he had worked point out very serious failures. While if they did know, and hired him anyway, that's even worse.
Miguel Masso and officers like him - victims of trauma from being in the military or otherwise, those who see a gun behind every shadow, hotheads, "cowboys," and those whose ego prevent them from dealing with the public with restraint and respect when the public is not reciprocating, do not belong on police forces. They most certainly should not be able to go from city to city, itinerant timebombs with a gun on one hip and a taser on the other waiting for the next Alan Blueford or Earl Malanado to step across their path.
Another prime example is Timothy Loehmann, who killed 14 year old Tamir Rice. He had been deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty in his previous police posting, yet made it onto the Cleveland police force with tragic results.
Consider Spotlight, the Academy Award winning film telling the story of how priests accused of child molestation were protected by their superiors with transfers from town to town. Like the priests in Spotlight, problem cops move from town to town, creating a danger to residents. Unlike Spotlight, there is no one whose job it is to address the issue - at least the Archbishop of Boston should have been dealing with the problem, even if he failed to.
Earl Malanado does not want Miguel Masso behind bars for what he did the night of January 28th, though in a just world assault and false arrest should be enough to put him there. In an interview Malanado said
"My wish is that he not be a Police Officer anymore. That he no longer be in a position where people's lives are in his hands."
Truly, no one else should have to endure similar moments of terror, not knowing if they are going to live or die at the hands of an out-of-control officer.
The Police Chief of Hollister, the City leaders of Hollister, and the people of Hollister should want that too.
Image from: https://localwiki.org/oakland/Miguel_Masso
Officer Masso is the biggest waste of time on the police for in Hollister. The man is a god honest douche. I've ran into him twice, both for the exact same things.
On both instances, he pulled up behind me while I was parked on the street. It was night time both instances, except one, I was waiting for someone to come outside to invite me in their home, and the other, I was actually chatting with my best friend and his girlfriend, before we had dropped his girlfriend off. I'm doing nothing both times, but minding my own, smoking cigarettes.
Now, Hollister has a handful of frightful snoots, so I wouldn't doubt that people that had actually called in for a "suspicious vehicle", which is a whole entirely different issue not to be addressed right now (but really, screw you guys for saying I'm suspicious for waiting; damn sissies).
On both occasions, I was really calm. I was cool. I've dealt with some hot headed cops. I know what I can say, legally, and not say, legally. I know what "interfering with the law" is, and I know what it isn't. I've taken Administrative Justice, and my father is in the Santa Clara probation department. I'm very well informed of my right to remain silent, well aware of my right to vocally defend myself from accusations, and very passionate about my right to NOT consent to a search and seizure.
Look, regardless of any situation, probable cause or not, we have the right to decline consent. Even IF you're uncertain of the probable causes legitimacy, you have the right to not consent. And on both occasions, I was honest with Masso. I told him of my medical marijuana card, which I produced at his request. Everything was fine and dandy, until I denied him consent to search my vehicle. This set him off. You can see the emotion surge into his face. Every other word that came out of his mouth was "Smart ass" (referring to me). Telling me that I don't know the law. Telling me that I'm wasting my time at college because they're feeding me false information. My dad is full of shit, and his bachelors degree doesn't mean anything, nor does his career.
Masso, both times, threatened to take me to jail because I wouldn't agree with him. He kept implying that it's against the law for me to argue with an officer. He kept telling me that I need to shut up, or he'll take me to jail.
Both times, he made me perform a sobriety test, which I passed with absolutely no question, and no hesitation. Yet still, excuse after angry excuse flies out of his mouth.
Tells me that it's no point to not give him consent to search the car, because he's going to do it anyway. He says that cops only ask to search the car out of courtesy, to be nice. He tells me that denial of consent is enough of a warranting reason for him to search the car.
Both times, he kept trying to tell me he was taking me to jail for having marijuana, regardless of my card. He kept insisting that my 1 gram of marijuana was more than an ounce. Then he starts fabricating laws about how you can only have marijuana to and from the medical dispensary, and it was illegal for me to just have. But honestly, he couldn't prove if I had or hadn't just come from the medical dispensary anyway. Yet still, every word he says is an insult to me, my education, and an empty threat to take me to jail.
The whole time, the only thing he was trying to do, was scare me. He literally got upset and angry because i didn't fear him. And I got tired of it both times after sitting out in the cold for 15 minutes. I'd say "I'm not legally required to fear you, nor kiss your ass, so I don't care". And he would just get so angry, followed by "Do you want to go to jail? I can take you to jail right now!". Over and over and over and over.
Both ended with me being the bigger diplomat with a brain, and I'd "apologize" just to get him to shut the f*ck up and let me go home.
Please, if you have any experience with the fuck-stickery that is Masso, publish it, or make a complaint. I have a little girl. He makes me scared to keep him on the force with my daughter growing in the area. He's a hot headed dipshit that abused the authority of his badge. Oh, and watch how raging he becomes when you ask him to identify himself.