An off-duty Pasadena police officer held a security systems salesman at gunpoint outside the lawman’s Santa Clarita home in 2015 and later told sheriff’s deputies that the man was a burglar, an attorney told a jury Thursday.
Addressing a Los Angeles Superior Court panel hearing opening statements in trial of plaintiff Omar Segura’s civil rights suit, lawyer Philip Kent Cohen said Officer Sam Priyamal De Sylva’s actions caused Segura to spend nearly a full day in jail and post bail. Segura was never charged with any crime, Cohen said.
Cohen said that the incident may have been racially motivated because Segura is black.
However, attorney Thomas Shaver, on behalf of De Sylva, said no racial slurs were stated by his client. He said two black officers who work with De Sylva will testify that he has no racial animus.
De Sylva was not the only person disturbed by Segura’s presence, Shaver said.
“His wife was rattled by what happened,” Shaver said.
Segura, 37, of Stevenson Ranch, went to De Sylva’s home about 5:45 p.m. Jan. 2, 2015, according to the suit. The officer answered the door and was immediately rude to the plaintiff, the suit states.
“Nobody wants you here,” De Sylva told Segura, according to Cohen.
When Segura told De Sylva he had a permit to sell the alarm systems, the officer told him to come back and show the document to him, the suit states.
Segura held out the permit so De Sylva could see it, but the officer snatched it away and tried to close the door behind him without identifying himself as a policeman, according to the suit.
When Segura put his hand in the doorway to try and get the permit back, De Sylva pointed a gun at him and told him to lie on the ground, according to the suit.
Cohen played for jurors a tape of the 911 call that De Sylva made to sheriff’s deputies in which he could be heard warning Segura to lie still.
The trial’s second witness, Deputy Jeffrey Cacic, said it was a joint decision by him and his colleagues to arrest Segura based on the information De Sylva gave them. Cacic said that when deputies spoke to Segura, he never raised the issue of his race, nor did he say that De Sylva told him that he did not belong in the neighborhood.
De Sylva is scheduled to testify Friday.