Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica Man Files Claim Over Arrest

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

May 13, 2015 -- A 36-year-old African American man has filed a claim against the City alleging he was roughly treated by Santa Monica police during his arrest while charging his e-vehicle at a local park last month.

Attorney Justin Sanders said he filed the claim Friday on behalf of his client, Justin Palmer of Santa Monica, a father of four with no previous criminal record, according to Sanders.

The claim names the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Police Department and the officers involved in the arrest, although Sanders said he was still trying to determine the name of one of the two officers.

A claim is the first step required by state law before a private citizen can take further legal action such as a lawsuit against a government body. Santa Monica has 45 days to notify Palmer and his attorney whether the City will take action or reject the claim.

“We’re going to move forward with the lawsuit, absolutely,” Sanders told The Lookout earlier this month (Attorney Says Claim Against Santa Monica Forthcoming In Clients Arrest, May 6, 2015).

Palmer alleges two Santa Monica police officers used excessive force while arresting him on April 21 at Virginia Park (Attorney Claims Super Aggressive Santa Monica Officers Roughed Up Client, April 29, 2015).

Palmer was in the park charging up his electric vehicle when he was approached by officers sometime before 11 p.m. that night and informed that the park was closing, according to the accounts by police and Sanders.

SMPD spokesman Sgt. Rudy Camarena said Palmer allegedly “actively resisted” officers when asked to leave the park. When Palmer allegedly refused to provide identification, officer used pepper spray to arrest Palmer.

Palmer was cited for violating the City’s park closure ordinance and delaying and obstructing officers in the performance of their duties. He was later released from custody, said Camarena.

Camarena said the arrest and use of force appeared justified and within department policy.

After being booked, Palmer complained of pain and was taken to Santa Monica Hospital for treatment. He was later “medically cleared” and released, said Camarena.

But Sanders said his client suffered a serious head injury after one of the arresting officers allegedly “swept his feet” out from under his handcuffed client, causing Palmer to fall directly on his head. His injuries have required repeated doctor’s visits, Sanders told The Lookout earlier.

While Palmer was on the ground, the second arresting officer allegedly sprayed pepper spray directly into Palmer’s eyes, Sanders has alleged.

In a darkly lit video posted on Youtube by an alleged witness to the arrest, Palmer can be heard yelling, “Someone call my wife!”

“It was such a minor incident in the first place,” Sanders said earlier this month. “This was actually over nothing. These cops are just way too aggressive.”

City prosecutors last week declined to pursue any charges against Palmer stemming from his arrest and citation, saying there was insufficient evidence to take the case to court.

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